We’ve received an email from a reader which is worth bringing to the attention of anyone thinking about booking a tour with Wing On Travel, one of Hong Kong’s largest Travel Agencies, in the near future.
I’m going to layout the basics on the reader’s complaint, but if you want to read the blow-by-blow, see the Wing On complaint in our forum.
Lucas6280 claims he booked a 6-day tour to Jiuzhaigou, China, for two people with Wing On Travel departing March 14th 2009. Lucas paid the full price of the tour and booked airfare from Canada to Hong Kong and accommodation in the city to correspond with the dates of the tour.
Two hours before the pre-departure meeting in Canada, Wing On informed Lucas that the tour had been cancelled as Jiuzhaigou was closed. Lucas was offered either an alternative tour with Wing On departing around the same date or a six month travel coupon, neither of which would include a penalty, or a cash refund, with a ‘service fee’ deduction of HK$300 per person, for a total of HK$600.
Unable to rearrange airfares and hotels without incurring severe costs, Lucas asked for a full cash refund and had to accept a HK$600 deduction. Lucas states that his contract with Wing On contained no information on penalties in the case of a default by the company. Wing On rightly claimed it was following a Travel Industry Council directive and has refused to refund the HK$600.
Wing-On may be within the boundaries of the law, marginally, but the practice of penalising customers for tours Wing On couldn’t provide seems wholly unfair and in bad faith. More importantly, the fact the the TIC would mandate this type of behaviour for all Hong Kong travel agencies seems counter productive for a city that promotes itself as the 'Gateway to China'.
We have asked Wing On to explain exactly what costs are incurred at its end to justify a HK$300 penalty per person for a tour they cancelled and for the TIC to justify this directive