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Travel companies warned over refund policy

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Australia's consumer watchdog has warned travel companies of massive fines for trying to stiff people hunting refunds during the coronavirus crisis.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said terms and conditions at the time of purchase remained in place despite the pandemic.

"The essential consumer law is 'don't mislead consumers'," he told ABC Radio National on Thursday.

"If you're telling consumers they don't have rights when in fact they do, that is illegal."

He said original refund arrangements or cancellation policies must be honoured.

"There's no excuse for misleading consumers at this time," Mr Sims said.

The ACCC is in talks with Intrepid after the major tour operator changed its terms and conditions retrospectively to deny customers refunds.

Mr Sims said the ACCC had been successful in getting travel companies and airlines to change policies to conform with the law.

If companies don't comply, the watchdog will take them to court where massive fines could apply.

© AAP 2020

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