Flight Centre fined $252,000 in penalties by ACCC for misleading and deceptive conduct
On 21 October 2019, the ACCC announced that Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (Flight Centre) had paid $252,000 in penalties following two infringement notices issued by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for alleged misleading advertisements promoting holiday vouchers during the 2018 Christmas and 2019 Easter periods.
Payment of a penalty to the ACCC specified on an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. Rather, an infringement notice may be issued by the ACCC when it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
The advertisements the subject of the infringement notices contained on a promotion which offered $250 vouchers to customers who spent $1,500 on a holiday package with Flight Centre. Such vouchers were redeemable on the customer’s next holiday booked through Flight Centre.
The advertisements failed to disclose that the redemption of the $250 voucher was subject to certain conditions, including that the next holiday booked must be over $5,000. The ACCC also harboured concerns that Flight Centre had failed to adequately disclose the time limit for the redemption of the vouchers.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in an ACCC press release:
Businesses are warned that the terms and conditions of any deal or promotion must be prominent, so that consumers understand what is involved in redeeming the offer.
In addition to the $252,000 penalty, Flight Centre has also now waived the $5,000 minimum spend condition and extended the period for redemption as part of the 2018 Christmas promotion from 30 June 2019 until 31 December 2019. Vouchers provided as part of the 2019 Easter promotion are also able to be used until 31 December 2019.
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