What a year it has been so far. Bushfires have ravaged Australia at the end of 2019 to the start of 2020. The minute the fires ended, the corona virus began. Some people claimed that Americans weren’t buying beer due to COVID19. Others hoarded essential supplies such as toilet paper and got into fights over it. What’s been happening with you? I can only tell you what’s been happening with me, Anonymeows.
Luckily for me, I have a wise biologist friend on my personal private Facebook who was advising people before the government was, to self isolate. He got a lot of hate for it. I quietly liked his posts and listened, because I respect him. Isolation has been great.
My partner and I are both working from home and loving it. We get so much quality time together that would otherwise have been wasted on the commute. Instead of a commute, we now have a coffmute, where we quietly sit next to each other and chill in the morning with our coffee before starting our day. It’s wonderful.
We’ve been going on lovely, long walks that are super romantic and adventurous. We’ve been cooking at home, catching up on administrative tasks that we’ve both neglected and I’ve even picked up a basic musical instrument (sorry, neighbours).
You’ll notice that for once, I have not credited anyone for the picture accompanying this post. I was the one who took the picture. Granted, I have not edited it, nor was it taken with a professional camera so it doesn’t look as lovely as any of the others from before, but I forgive myself, so you should forgive me too.
We had an interstate trip planned. We booked it one or two days after New Years, and had to book one flight with Qantas, and another with Virgin Australia, who are now in voluntary administration. It appears that a mix of bad timing and questionable financial management practices mean that many punters will not be receiving a refund. I hope that travel companies take a serious look at themselves and refund their customers for services that they did not deliver, and stop acting as though offering a travel credit is some sort of favour. This is unconscionable behaviour and I sincerely hope that the ACCC puts an end to it as soon as possible.
Interestingly, Qantas contacted me proactively and refunded me points and taxes for my booking. They did not charge me a fee. Virgin offered me travel credit and kept trying to insist that I was cancelling my flight, but this is simply untrue – Queensland had closed its borders. I am sure that many others are in my situation. For me, it is not just about the money, but about the principle of it all. It is true that airlines have less flights operating; but even as Virgin goes through its administration, some flights are operating.
Why should customers have to pick up the tab, in the form of interest-free loans to travel agents? Companies do need to take responsibility and plan ahead, just as much as we’ve been told that it’s our responsibility for us to get through this. My partner and I are lucky and still have jobs that we can work from home. We are also very frugal and did not splash out for an expensive holiday, but booked something well within our means and may only be a few hundred dollars out. What about the others? It was heartbreaking to read people’s stories of how they spent thousands of dollars and saved for years to do so, lost their jobs, and companies are not refunding them for services not rendered.
Interestingly, it seems that with some airlines, it has been easier to get direct refunds without cancellation fees than for those who made the choice to go through an agent… Hopefully certain agencies will simply complete the refunds without charging exorbitant fees. I’ve been told that some people who booked flexible fares are even being denied refunds, not that it should matter, as COVID is out of the traveler’s control.
Despite the madness, I’ve started to make a regular donation to the Smith Family. The Smith Family provide educational services for disadvantaged Australian children. I’ve asked for the donation to come straight out of my pay, so that it is consistent. Anyone reading this blog may find that there will be less donation-tracking posts. I think that if you can, donate as much money as you can to help such charities. These children are only going to be further disadvantaged during the crisis and I would be a monster not to help them.
If you are stuck and unable to get your money back, I hear you. It might be worth speaking to your bank to see if you can lodge a charge-back with your provider, but just make sure you have a written record of trying to resolve the issue with that provider first. Please donate whatever you can to good causes. If you’ve lost your job, I hope that you are OK and are receiving government support, and the support of those around you. Please be safe, stay isolated and take car of yourself and each other.