Fair Trading experts are to investigate the plight of a veteran and his wife who claim to be $25,000 out of pocket over cruises cancelled during the pandemic.

Last week, we published a story on the difficulties of Dave and Christine Russell chasing up the money they say they paid to a travel agent for a series of cruises when Dave retired after 40 years in the armed forces.

After a flood of responses from readers, including some which questioned whether the agent or the cruise lines should be responsible , Cruise Passenger reached out to Fair Trading for clarification.

Now, officials have agreed to look into the matter and see if they can offer a legal position for this important question.

Of particular interest, was an email received by a Cruise Passenger reader, John W, who is a Cert IV Paralegal and who claimed that even in these circumstances where the agent had not paid the money in full to the cruise line, the law of agency still makes the cruise line liable for the money not refunded.

Mr Winter also claimed to have helped neighbours out of a similar situation, by instructing them to inform a cruise line of the law of agency, and they received their money back days later.

Critical to this claim is the travel agent being a legitimate travel agent, who becomes an agent of the cruise line via agency law. If the travel agent was not a legitimate agent, it could instead be considered a matter of corporate theft, which the Consumer Law Centre advised Mr and Mrs Russell to pursue. 

If the claim were to be proven true, this would prove significant as it would provide a different avenue to a refund for any cruisers (among other travellers) who are out of pocket and waiting on a refund from their travel agent.

This claim has been collated and sent to Fair Trading, for an answer on how the law is applied in these situations, which will hopefully be able to bring more clarity to Cruise Passenger readers and other travellers alike.

Another Cruise Passenger reader and travel agent of 45 years shared the perspective that these situations are the result of a de-regulation of travel agents.

The reader wrote: “Sadly this is partly a consequence of the govt removing the requirement for agents to be licensed and bonded. Any Joe Bloggs can now open a travel agency in their bedroom if they wish. 

“I’ve been a travel agent for 45 years and had my own agency for 34 years and hate seeing people’s faith in our industry hurt by rogue operators.”

Fair Trading is currently looking into the matter and Cruise Passenger will keep you updated as the investigation progresses.

We again tried to contact the travel agent concerned without success.