Voluntary Administration: What Are Your Consumer Rights? – Lawpath
Everything you need to know as a consumer when a company folds
Airline booking website Bestjet recently fell into voluntary administration, throwing thousands of customers into a state of panic in the midst of peak holiday season. Pilot Partners are the external administrators and will seek to ensure Bestjet pay the twenty plus million owing back. Consumers who used the company’s website are now unsure whether their tickets are valid or refunds will be made.
“The Bestjet Fiasco Action Group” on Facebook contains hundreds of cases of out of pocket consumers. Common examples are Bestjet customers not receiving refunds and having the company or airline cancel their exisiting tickets. Consumers do have a number of protections through consumer law in situations where companies go bust.
As Bestjet is in voluntary administration, they have an external administrator who will manage the situation and decide what their next course of action is. Once the administrator deems the company cannot continue, they will prioritise the individuals or groups who the company owes money to (aka creditors). If you are a consumer who paid for something but are yet to receive, you may become an unsecured creditor. ASIC provides details of external administrators on their website, so you can contact them to register as a creditor.
Getting Your Money Back
A company in administration will often have a variety of different creditors in which they owe money to. As a result, the Corporations Act 2001 dictates a priority order in which the external administrator must repay the creditors. As unsecured creditors, consumers will only be paid after other creditors, such as shareholders and employees, have been repaid first.
It is important to note the type of payment you use will impact the options available to retrieve your money. Payments with a credit card will afford you extra protection when it comes to getting your money back. If you use a credit card to pay for an item or service that you never receive, then you may be able to request a chargeback. Your card issuer or bank will then seek a refund from the bank of the company in administration. There are time limits on chargeback requests, so it is important to contact your institution as soon as possible.
Purchases made using cash or non credit card functions are subject to the outcome of the administration process. If you find yourself in a situation like this, the advice of a consumer lawyer can be helpful if you are unsure about what steps to take.
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Chris is a member of the content team at Lawpath. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Laws at UTS. He is interested in how marketing communication strategies can influence the future of the legal industry.