Question posted in the General Law category relating to Gauteng
I am the owner of a Travel agency. I took over the business from the previous owners on the 1st April 2020 as lockdown was implemented. I have been doing my very best to find the best and most cost effective solutions for all clients that have been affected.
I have a school group who was due to travel in June 2020 and they had only settled their deposit when lockdown was announced. When I had access to the policies and procedures surrounding their booking I was advised that the deposit paid to the airline was non refundable but could be transferred to a future date. The travel insurance which had been issued could also be transferred to a future date.
The school advised that they would be doing the trip the following year and would more than likely have an even bigger group. They also gave me provisional new dates. Everything was processed accordingly.
The school has now contacted me this week and have said they want a full refund of the deposit and that I should claim it through the insurance.
They were advised earlier in the year that the insurance does not cover pandemics and so they could not claim through this.
I have reiterated this to them.
I also advised that the deposit was made up of the flight deposit as well as the payment for the travel insurance as well as the travel agents service fees as we collect this upfront due to the amount of time and effort that goes into a group booking. Group quotations take up the majority of a consultants time and they can take months to finalise. The agency has to cover their costs in the interim.
Majority of the deposit was service fees.
As per our terms and conditions on our quotes, email signature & website service fees are non refundable in the event of a cancellation.
The school came back to say that they are aware of the T's & C's but surely I need to show compassion.
They have now emailed this morning to say that they are taking the matter to the School Management and SGB, as well as their Legal Department to seek further assistance.
My questions is when giving a client a deposit amount do I have to give them a full breakdown of what the deposit is made up of?
Secondly my understanding is that Terms and Conditions accepted are binding is that correct?
I am truly not trying to show no compassion but the reality is that September is the 6th month that I will have no income coming in. I am doing the very best I can for each individual client and have even said that although I am entitled to charge a service fee when we do rebook dates if they have a credit I am not, even though it costs me more as I understand no body asked to be in this situation.
The profit was made when the previous owners were still running the company so I am not even sitting with any of the profit made.
Can they legally insist that I pay these service fees back?
Answer to the Question
I see that you haven't made a payment for the question, but I'm going to assist you a little. If you want to ask a follow-up question, please make the required payment.
My questions is when giving a client a deposit amount do I have to give them a full breakdown of what the deposit is made up of? --> No, you don't.
Secondly my understanding is that Terms and Conditions accepted are binding is that correct? --> Yes.
Can they legally insist that I pay these service fees back? --> Based on what you said, no.
Please remember this is a dialog if you have follow-up questions please make the required payment, then use the REPLY button and ask your further question. I would like to continue assisting you, but I need to concentrate on people who make payments for their questions.