Bluesky travel costs ‘totally unnecessary’
Travel agencies have been ordered to charge their clients up to $200 more for the same journey by the Government, following an investigation by the ABC.
Bluesky Travel has been fined $20,000 by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) after the Department ruled that it did not comply with the new $200 surcharge.
The agency says it has already incurred $9,000 in penalties, and will have to pay another $3,000 if it does not comply.
“We are pleased that the Department has recognized the significant cost of travel and that we are taking steps to reduce it,” Bluesky’s managing director, Richard Pritchard, said in a statement.
“It is completely unnecessary to charge these clients additional costs, especially given that the costs associated with their travel are borne by the public.”
The ABC has also learned that Bluesky has been accused of not properly managing its clients, and of not having a formal business relationship with the Department.
It is alleged that the agency was “disrespectful” and “unprofessional” towards its clients and that it breached the duty to minimise the costs to taxpayers.
The ABC understands that the department also fined Bluesky $5,000 over the same issue.
Mr Pritchard says Bluesky is committed to ensuring its customers are properly reimbursed.
“The new $300 surcharge has been designed to protect the Government’s revenue, but it also provides us with the flexibility to manage the costs,” he said.
“As Bluesky continues to expand our client base and meet growing demand, we believe it is a prudent measure to minimising the impact of the new surcharge on our customers.”
What you need to know about the Bluesky surcharge Bluesky says it is committed “to minimising any impact” on its clients.
Blueskys clients have been warned not to travel to countries where there are no charges for travel.
The Government says that in addition to the $200 fee, travellers will also be subject to a $300 processing fee.
Blueski’s managing directors also say the agency is working on a new policy that will make sure all travellers receive their refunds within 30 days.
The new policy will be introduced on March 1.
It states that the refund can only be claimed for travel to or from Australia or New Zealand, and only if the fee is waived.
If the fee was waived for travel within the last 30 days, the refund is valid for travel from January 1, 2019, to March 31, 2019.
What you can do to protect yourself From January 1 next year, travellers can use travel vouchers to cover the cost of a domestic trip for up to two months.
A $50 refund will be applied to the travel voucher, with a maximum $250 refund possible.
It’s worth noting that travellers who have paid the $50 processing fee will not be eligible for a full refund.
You can also protect yourself by not bringing any money in with you to the country where you’re travelling.
The Treasury and DIBP have confirmed that travellers can claim the full $200 processing fee for domestic travel as long as they have a valid travel voucher and that they have paid all applicable fees.
What to do if you have a travel voucher for domestic trip If you are travelling to Australia or NZ, or to any country in which the fee waiver applies, you can use your travel voucher to cover travel costs up to the time you book the trip.
You’ll need to provide the full amount of the fee for your return trip, and the travel will not cover any costs for travel between Australia and New Zealand.
You must provide all travel expenses for your domestic trip to be covered under the refund.
If you have an expired travel voucher you can cancel the refund within 30 calendar days of booking your return flight.
You should keep a copy of the refund voucher for your records.
It should contain the name of the airline, and your contact details, the date you booked the flight and the amount of your return fare.
If your travel is cancelled, you’ll have to return the unused voucher to the airline.
You will need to pay the fee and the balance of the unused amount of travel expenses within 30 business days of cancellation.
If travelling from overseas, you should keep all receipts for all domestic travel booked between the time the travel vouchers were issued and the time your return ticket was delivered.
This includes travel vouchers, cash, and any receipts for any other travel you may have made.
If there are any questions about your refund, contact the department.
What happens if you get a refund after travelling overseas?
The travel voucher will be returned to the original recipient.
If returning from overseas you will be able to use the refund to cover your return journey to Australia and NZ.
If returned to Australia after your return, you will need: To check if you are entitled to a refund You must supply all travel receipts for the domestic trip (including all travel vouchers and cash) to be eligible to receive the refund