A Waiheke Island transport company is refusing to refund a deposit to an Auckland man who had to cancel a wine tour when he tested positive for Covid.
Consumer NZ says people should be prepared not to receive full refunds if they have to cancel bookings because of Covid-19.
An Auckland man has complained after he was unable to receive a refund for a deposit for a Waiheke Island wine tour, after having to cancel due to contracting Covid-19.
Simon, who did not want his last name published for privacy reasons, had booked a trip to Waiheke Island with 27 of his friends on February 19.
He paid a $500 non-refundable deposit for a private winery tour with Waiheke Executive Transport and a $500 deposit for lunch at Ki Maha.
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But five days before the event, on his birthday, he tested positive for Covid and canceled his plans.
“I kindly asked out of goodwill and from an ethical standpoint to reimburse both the Wine Tour Guide and Ki Maha as I had Covid,” he said.
Ki Maha responded quickly and provided a refund.
Waiheke Executive Transport ‘went cold’ and refused to reimburse Simon as it was against its terms and conditions.
“While that may be okay from a company policy standpoint, I think it’s more than appalling from an ethical standpoint,” Simon said.
“There was no sympathy or sense of humanity.”
He said he was not offered to book another date and that due to the Omicron outbreak, his friends were hesitant to go.
The terms and conditions of Waiheke Executive Transport stated that if the transport was cancelled, the deposit paid was non-refundable.
Geoff Jewitt of Waiheke Executive Transport said he had added a clause which allowed a customer to reschedule if they were unable to travel due to a nationwide lockdown. It informally allowed travelers who were close contacts or who had tested positive to reschedule as well.
“When we arrange a wine tour there is a considerable amount of administration and several companies lock in time slots for the date set.”
The deposits contributed to the cost of booking the timeslot and the initial cost of setting up the job. He said the island’s location meant it was unlikely anyone else would take over the booking at the last minute and that clause meant only genuine customers were found.
“To date we have had some disappointed people who have lost deposits, but we prefer that they rebook on a different date. In some cases we have allowed two years for the rebooking to be confirmed.
Consumer NZ spokeswoman Raksha Nand said if a consumer made a purchase they had a contract with a company and were bound by it.
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“We expect businesses not to issue refunds due to a change of mind or if customers contract Covid-19, unless the seller offers a refund at the time of purchase. tickets,” she said.
“The seller is not obliged to take these circumstances into account.”
Consumer NZ hoped businesses would consider vulnerable consumers unable to take risks, such as attending an event when Covid-19 is present, and were more flexible with their refund and cancellation policies.
Nand encouraged consumers to check whether a right to reimbursement was offered before paying for a service.