Flight Centre has been penalised by the ACCC and has amended its terms and conditions for holiday vouchers after the ACCC issued two infringement notices for alleged misleading advertisements related to the vouchers offered during the 2018 Christmas and 2019 Easter periods.
The ACCC said it had grounds to believe that these advertisements were liable to mislead, and breached the Australian Consumer Law because Flight Centre failed to disclose to consumers that redeeming the $250 voucher was subject to certain conditions. These conditions included requiring consumers to book another holiday with Flight Centre worth more than $5000.
The ACCC was also concerned about the limited time frame offered for consumers to redeem the voucher, which also wasn't properly disclosed to consumers.
Flight Centre has now waived the $5000 minimum spend condition and extended the redemption period for vouchers provided as part of the 2018 Christmas promotion from 30 June 2019 until 31 December 2019. Vouchers provided as part of the 2019 Easter promotion are also able to be used until 31 December 2019. It also paid $252,000 in penalties.
Flight Centre advertised promotions in store and in print newspapers offering $250 vouchers to consumers who spent $1500 on a holiday package with Flight Centre. The vouchers were redeemable on their next holiday booked through Flight Centre.
"We are concerned that consumers were enticed to purchase their holiday through Flight Centre to obtain a voucher they were not able to use without spending another $5000, when this was not adequately disclosed," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
Over 35,000 consumers received cash vouchers as part of these promotions.
Flight Centre's advertisements appeared in print newspapers and on digital screens across about 700 stores for the Christmas promotion and 800 stores for the Easter promotion.
"Businesses are warned that the terms and conditions of any deal or promotion must be prominent, so that consumers understand what is involved in redeeming the offer," Ms Court said.
Flight Centre is Australia's largest travel agency. It operates retail stores across Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North America, Hong Kong, China, South Africa and the UAE. Its Christmas promotion was advertised between November and December 2018, and its Easter promotion was advertised between March and April 2019.