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VIC Did Vietnam Airlines Breach the Australian Consumer Law?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Cuong Cao, 28 October 2015.

  1. Cuong Cao

    Cuong Cao Member

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    Dear all,

    I have a question regarding to Australian Consumer Law and airline booking specifically.

    So I helped my girlfriend book an airplane ticket to Vietnam on " expedia.com.au". We chose Vietnam Airlines as it was the least expensive one. However at the airport today, Vietnam Airlines refused to do the check-in for her citing her booking is missing the middle name. Consequently, she had to pay for another ticket to get home now 'cause of an urgent family matter.

    So my question is, does Vietnam Airlines violate the consumer rights in refusing to board its customers in case of missing the middle name in the booking? Any suggestions in tackling with this issue?

    It is worth to take into account that the expedia.com.au website does note that: "Traveller names must match your government-issued photo ID exactly. However, I didn't put her middle name in because (1) I had no problem flying with other airlines (Japanese Airlines, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines) without my middle name before and (2) for the sake of identity security (3) middle name wasn't required as there was no red asterisk mark. Furthermore, if this "exact" names rule strictly enforced, we can not input our names in since it contains special characters that most booking websites, including expedia.com.au, does not support.

    Thank you very much and have a great day!

    Best regards
     
  2. @thelawbundle

    @thelawbundle Well-Known Member

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    Hi Cuong,

    At first glance, I see that you have 2 options here - but the second is to be preferred.

    1) Check the Expedia booking terms and conditions (which you would have agreed to when buying the ticket). There may be (although it is unlikely) terms and conditions which deal with this type of scenario, and make it clear who you need to be pursuing and how to go about that;

    2) I do not see this being a Consumer Law issue per se, but a breach of contract issue. You buying a ticket to travel with Vietnam Airlines, in my view, creates a contract. They have offered a flight for sale via Expedia and you have purchased that ticket in order to take the flight. Their refusal to let you, or your partner fly, is potentially a breach of that express (or implied) contract.

    I have reviewed the Vietnam Airlines terms and conditions of carriage (see here: Conditions of carriage for passengers & baggage | Vietnam Airlines Nothing in there seems to give them the right to refuse entry to the plane for not specifying a middle name - which again, suggests that there is a breach of contract here.

    Accordingly, you may consider taking Vietnam Airlines to a small claims tribunal, asking for your money back (as a debt). I am not from Victoria, but I understand that you can bring these claims in VCAT (see here: Civil Disputes | Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Here are a list of services that may be able to help you with your claim: Additional Resources | Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Your local community legal centre is a good start.

    However, if you are comfortable doing it, my recommendation is that you call & email Vietnam Airlines first and ask to make a complaint - explain what has happened and what you intend to do. Hopefully then, they will put you in touch with a manager who can resolve this for you before you have to waste any more of your time. Here are the relevant Australian contact details for Vietnam airlines: worldwide-office

    Hope this helps. Best wishes.
     
    Cuong Cao likes this.
  3. Cuong Cao

    Cuong Cao Member

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    I'd like to express my gratitude for your kind and generous help. Being students, every single cent counts, let alone more than a thousand of dollars in this issue... so we really hope to get something back, even a little bit.

    Speaking of which, I contacted Expedia today and requested to add my girlfriend's middle name in the booking for the return ticket (the ticket we bought was round trip) so that at least we don't have to buy another one to return. However, after several calls and a lengthy process, a person at Expedia, after calling Vietnam Airlines, informed me that the round trip booking was issued under one ticket, or itinerary whatsoever, has been cancelled (both way) for no show, which literally means that we now have to buy another one for her to get back Australia. I am not sure why that is the case... Can you please help me on this issue as well?

    Apologies for my ignorant contemplation, I am not sure what the purpose of names rule for the airlines ticket is. If it is for verification or authentication purpose, then wouldn't it be easier to check the card she purchase the ticket with, which she did? I'm just trying to use my logic and common sense to create arguments and counter arguments here although I understand that law is more complicated than both of those.

    Again, thank you very much for your help. I really really appreciate your generous help. Thank you and have lovely day!
     
  4. Cuong Cao

    Cuong Cao Member

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    Sorry I just have to clarify: the "no show" reason is totally not true since she had to buy another ticket for the same flight from Vietnam Airlines... for an extravagant cost, even.
     

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