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SouThERN AFRICA’S TRAVEL NEWS WEEKLY April 7 2010 I No. 2101 It’s just like being at home, except someone else makes the bed in the morning. Reservations: 0800 113 790 or Galileo Access: CG,Amadeus Access.CG INSIDE TRAVEL NEWS WEEKLY TNW5094 NEWS NEWS fEaTurE Arik Air BoB WilliAMS dieS Tour operATorS New system is agent friendly Travel industry loses ‘ideas’ man All-inclusive still popular Page 2 Page 4 Page 10 Beware the defaulters! Natalia thomsoN N Cimbing to new heights Have you ever dreamt of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? African Encounters is challenging members of SA’s travel sector to join its Climb Kili Campaign 2010 to raise funds to redevelop eight community crèches in two informal settlements south of Johannesburg. African Encounters is seeking up to 20 eager climbers to be part of this initiative. Climbers have to cover the cost of their travel arrangements at a discounted price of R15 500 and raise R10 000 towards the cause. Already on the climb are directors of African Encounters, Gary Smith and Ewan opperman. The climb takes place from August 20 to 26 Photo: Tiyana Huysamen ‘Crazy’ Acsa hike given the chop Natalia thomsoN SENSE has prevailed as Acsa this week heard that it had been granted permission to increase its tariffs by only 40,7% and not the 133% it had requested. In January, TNW reported (January 20) that Acsa fees, including passenger charges, landing fees and rentals would be hiked from R81 per passenger per single trip to R185 if Acsa had its way. The proposed hike created TNW3909SD such a furore that Iata added Acsa to its “hall of shame”. But the Regulating Committee put a spanner in Acsa’s works by granting it a total increase of 40,7% for 2010/2011, 25,6% in 2011/2012 and a 16,2% increase in 2012/2013. Acsa’s proposed 133% tariff hike, it said, was aimed at prefunding its R19bn infrastructure development. This is despite its having paid billions in dividends to its shareholders in the past. n EVER ticket for a travel agency that has gone into default! That’s the word from BSP & Fin Consulting’s Linda Dempster as several Cape-based agencies alleged this month they had been conned by Parow agency, De Vuyst Travel. TNW (March 24) reported on De Vuyst’s recent failure to submit visa applications to the Australian High Commission, despite having been given all the relevant documentation and payments from applicants. Since then, the agency and Marie De Vuyst have come under the spotlight, allegedly for landing agencies that had been ticketing on their behalf in hot water with ADMs of substantial amounts. Absolut Travel owner, Debbie Scott, explains: “We received two ‘Request for CCCFs’ from banks as credit cards that had been inserted into the bookings for issue were being disputed. We spoke to [De Vuyst] who said they would fax through the CCCFs. Three days later we hadn’t received anything from them, but we had received more disputes.” Marie allegedly swiped the card in front of the client and would then send the ticket to be issued a few months later, inserting the same credit card. Clients would then go back to the agency with a double debit upon which Marie would allegedly blame the airline and promise to sort it out. Eventually the client disputed the charge and the ticketing agency would receive an ADM. Malcolm Townes, Marie’s husband, told TNW this week that he was aware of and “sad” about what had happened but that much of the problem had been “corrected”. “We owned this agency for over 20 years but since most of our business was leisure we were affected by the downturn and lost a lot of travellers to the Internet. I’m really very sad that people have come short.” Several allegations have also been lodged on consumer watchdog site Hello Peter. In one case, the consumer alleges that Marie promised to arrange forex for him and took R10 000 in cash without issuing any receipts. “I went to the agency to collect my forex and spoke to her and Malcolm. Suddenly they knew nothing about the transaction and couldn’t find any documentation. They told me to come back but they have since disappeared.” Another report claims that Marie “scammed” two elderly pensioners out of R50 000 for a Starlight Cruise for their 63rd wedding anniversary, which they were never booked on. “They were never issued with any receipts.” There is a reason Iata stops defaulting agencies from trading, explains Linda. “They haven’t paid their biggest creditor (BSP) and if that happens, why would you think they would pay you?” Linda says it is very difficult for an agency to lose its licence and resume trading. “If an agency runs its business correctly it should never let a ticket leave the office without receiving payment first. Travel is not like other businesses where you allow 30 days’ grace to pay. It should be run on a COD basis.” If you want to ticket for another agency, get a cash guarantee to hold and only issue tickets to that value, topping it up as you go along, advises Linda. “And only accept a client’s credit card if you get your own authorisation from the card company, even if the client comes to your agency to sign the CCCF.” The case comes as no conclusions have yet been reached on proposed changes to local Iata guarantee requirements (TNW September 23, 2009). Agencies were told at the time that the Agency Programme Joint Council (APJC) had proposed either a R250 000 or R500 000 flat guarantee, varying according to the agents’ payment cycles. This was vehemently disputed by the retail travel industry and discussions are still taking place to finalise the guarantee. n

Travel News Weekly - 7 April 2010

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