Two years after seeing her travel plans ruined by COVID-19, Roxanne Delisle never expected to wait this long to get her money back. As travel advocates criticize the industry, the final call for 13,000 unresponsive travelers draws near.
Posted at 6:00 am
Each month, Orleans Travel and Cruise Center travel agency in Orleans follows up with Air Canada. Each time, the carrier responds that the M fileme Delisle is undergoing treatment and you have to be patient. The problem: the payment does not arrive.
“I understand that these are extraordinary circumstances, but I think that after two years, we have shown enough patience, don’t you think? “says meme Delisle, who contacted Press because she doesn’t want to let go.
The case of Roxanne Delisle illustrates the bureaucratic labyrinth that agencies, clients and airline employees must navigate.
Interestingly, the tickets for her husband and daughter, purchased at the same time with the same credit card, were refunded a few days after their travel agency requested them from Air Canada in the spring of 2021.
At the request of PressAir Canada reviewed Roxanne Delisle’s file.
“In this specific case, I confirm that Air Canada has not received any request for a refund from the travel agency in question,” said Pascale Déry, a spokeswoman for the airline. However, now that we have been made aware of this file, we will contact the customer directly to resolve the situation. »
The travel agency claims to have submitted the request. As with all of your claims, you did not receive a receipt confirmation email from Air Canada.
“It is not a pleasant situation, but I will have no choice but to continue doing business with Air Canada, because there is little competition in Canada,” laments the traveler.
Whose fault is it?
A year after seeing the Trudeau government fly to the aid of multiple airlines, it’s unusual for consumers to keep waiting, says Late Flight President and CEO Jacob Charbonneau.
This points to the Ottawa approach.
“Deals were fragmented with each carrier,” says Mr. Charbonneau. Deadlines vary from company to company. The refunds only affected Canadian carriers, not foreign companies. It was made to protect carriers. »
Refunds were not automatic. You had to ask. Some airlines, like WestJet, have received no assistance from the federal government. Therefore, there was no obligation to return.
Unlike in places like the United States, airlines have been able to issue customers travel credits instead of cash refunds while waiting for help from Ottawa. They said that they acted in this way because they did not have the necessary cash.
The situation has created confusion among consumers, said Sylvie De Bellefeuille, a lawyer with Option consommateurs.
“There are people who pressured their travel agency or transportation company and didn’t know they had to reapply for reimbursement,” he explains. Some have missed the boat. The deadlines were very short to make a request for a refund. »
When the claims cannot be reimbursed by the carriers, the file falls into the hands of the Travel Agency Client Compensation Fund (FICAV). PwC, the firm in charge of managing these claims, has no news of 13,587 claimants while in 3,710 files the information provided is incomplete, but all the people have been contacted.
“Therefore, there are almost 18,000 Quebecers who could be eligible for a refund, but who have not done the necessary follow-up,” says Charles Tanguay, spokesman for the Office de la protection du consumer (OPC).
“Between October 5, 2021 and today we have made three reminders,” he continues. In May, the Office called a telephone operator company to reach these people directly, that is, a fourth follow-up1. »
According to the latest FICAV data, updated on May 2, 7,048 compensation claims were settled by sending a check or bank transfer, 2,411 files are in process, 997 files have been rejected due to inadmissibility of the claims and 15,677 have been cancelled. claims for were reimbursed by a third party, such as the airline, travel agent or insurer.
Initially, 43,430 claims were submitted to FICAV.
At the moment, the OPC cannot provide an estimate of the full end of the refunds.
Those still waiting for a refund should be patient, according to Mr. Charbonneau. Some files are more complex to process, for example when a ticket was purchased with a foreign online agency that no longer exists.