CONSUMER Protection BC announced last week on Friday (February 27) that it has suspended the licence of Air-World Tour & Travel Ltd., a travel agency operating out of Surrey at 101-7015 128 Street.
Meanwhile, some 26 clients who were allegedly cheated by the agency owners – the Rana’s – through various schemes have filed a complaint with Surrey RCMP (File 15 – 28090) and are urging others who might also have been scammed but have been too embarrassed to step up, to contact them.
They can call Anil Menon at 604-723-1516, Jatinder at 604-720-0976 or Maninder at 604-723-3055. The VOICE verified their phone numbers. You can also email them at: [email protected].
The travel agency owners are nowhere to be found, according to the clients. This newspaper also phoned the travel agency’s phone number listed on Google on Monday and got this message right away: “Sorry, there is no more room to record new messages.”
The clients told The VOICE that the agency owners allegedly encouraged clients to buy tickets in bulk during the off-season so that they could sell these at a higher rate during the busy season and make profits that the company would share with them. Many clients invested in such tickets and are now left high and dry. There were other allegations as well, including that the clients’ credit card numbers were compromised and many of them have been ripped off for thousands of dollars.
Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, spokesperson for Consumer Protection BC, said: “It appears that the business has ceased operations and we urge any traveler who has booked – but not yet received – services through Air-World Tour & Travel to confirm their reservations. We have just learned of this closure and we are still assessing the situation and potential consumer impact. As such, we are unable to provide details about our investigation at this time.”
Travellers who have made arrangements with Air-World should first confirm that all legs of their travel have been booked and paid for (such as hotel accommodations, flights, and tours). If travel cannot be confirmed, here are some steps to take:
* Talk to your airline, hotel or tour operators to determine if there are options available for you to rebook your travel arrangements.
* Contact a BC-licensed travel agent to determine if they can assist you with rebooking alternative travel. To find a licensed BC travel agent, please visit www.travelrightsbc.ca.
In the unfortunate circumstance that the original travel services you booked through Air-World were not provided and you are seeking a refund, here are some steps you can take:
* If you purchased travel services with a credit card, please call or write to the credit card company to determine if the charges can be reversed.
* If you purchased separate travel insurance, call the insurance provider to see if they will cover the costs of the undelivered services.
* If these steps have been unsuccessful, consumers may make a claim to BC’s Travel Assurance Fund with Consumer Protection BC.
Although consumers’ costs may eventually be recovered through other means, all claims to the Fund must be filed within six months from the date the travel services were not provided. The Travel Assurance Fund is a fund of last resort and provides possible compensation for consumers who did not receive the contracted travel services they purchased through a BC-licensed travel agent (to a maximum of $5,000 per consumer). Note that the fund only covers the cost of the original travel services that were not provided – it does not cover the cost of alternate travel or any increase in price due to re-booking travel.
Eligibility to the Travel Assurance Fund is available to both consumers and BC-licensed travel agents. For more details about the Fund and to find a licensed travel agent or wholesaler, visit Consumer Protection BC online at www.travelrightsbc.ca. Information about the Travel Assurance Fund in several languages can also be found on this page on Consumer Protection BC’s website.
– BY RATTAN MALL