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Complaints Handling Policy and Procedures
1. Objective of the policy
As a responsible travel agent we seek to maintain and enhance our reputation of providing you with high quality products and services. We value complaints as they assist us to improve our products, services and customer service.
We are committed to being responsive to the needs and concerns of our customers or potential customers and to resolving your complaint as quickly as possible.
This policy has been designed to provide guidance to both our customers and staff on the manner in which we receive and manage your complaint. We are committed to being consistent, fair and impartial when handling your complaint.
The objective of this policy is to ensure:
• You are aware of our complaint lodgement and handling processes,
• Both you and our staff understand our complaints handling process,
• Your complaint is investigated impartially with a balanced view of all information and evidence,
• We take reasonable steps to actively protect your personal information,
• Your complaint is considered on its merits taking into account individual circumstances and needs.
2. Definition of a complaint
In this policy a complaint means an expression of dissatisfaction by a customer relating to a travel service provided by us.
3. How a complaint can be made
If you are dissatisfied with a travel service provided by us, you should in the first instance consider speaking directly with the staff member/s you have been dealing with. If you are uncomfortable with this or consider the relevant staff member is unable to address your concerns you can lodge a complaint with us in one of the following ways:
• By completing a feedback form on our website, https://www.surfcoasttravel.com.au/contact-details/
• By telephoning us, on (+61) 03 5234 5041
• By writing to us, Surf Coast Travel and Cruise, T05a, 222 Fischer Street, Torquay, VIC 3228
• By emailing us, firstname.lastname@example.org
• In person by speaking to any of our customer service staff.
If we receive your complaint verbally and we consider it appropriate, we may ask you to put your complaint in writing.
Our complaints handling process is free of charge.
4. The information you will need to tell us
When we are investigating your complaint we will be relying on information provided by you and information we may already be holding. We may need to contact you to clarify details or request additional information where necessary. To help us investigate your complaint quickly and efficiently we will ask you for the following information:
• Your name and contact details,
• The name of the person you have been dealing with about your travel service,
• The nature of the complaint,
• Details of any steps you have already taken to resolve the compliant,
• Details of conversations you may have had with us that may be relevant to your complaint,
• Copies of any documentation which supports your complaint.
5. Help when making a complaint
The person receiving or managing your complaint should provide you with any assistance you may need to make your complaint. However if you consider you need further assistance please inform us of this at the time you are lodging your complaint.
6. Recording complaints
When taking a complaint, we will record your name and contact details. We will also record all details of your complaint including the facts and the cause/s of your complaint, the outcome and any actions taken following the investigation of your complaint. We will also record all dates and times relating to actions taken to resolve the complaint and communications between us.
As part of our on-going improvement plan, complaints will be monitored for any identifying trends by management and rectification/remedial action taken to mitigate any identified issues.
If you lodge a complaint we will record your personal information solely for the purposes of addressing your complaint. Your personal details will actively be protected from disclosure, unless you expressly consent to its disclosure.
Where a third party travel supplier such as a tour operator, was involved in your travel services, we may be required to speak with them to fully investigate your complaint.
7. Feedback to customers
We are committed to resolving your issues at the first point of contact, however, this will not be possible in all circumstances, in which case a more formal complaints process will be followed.
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three (3) business days, and keep you informed of the progress of your complaint throughout our complaint resolution process.
We are committed to resolving your complaint within 10 business days of you lodging your complaint, however, this may not always be possible on every occasion. Where we have been unable to resolve your complaint within 10 business days, we will inform you of the reason for the delay and specify a date when we will be in a position to finalise your complaint.
During the investigation of your complaint we may need to seek further clarification or documentation from you to assist us in resolving your complaint.
If we have sought clarification or documentation from you and we are waiting on you to provide this information, we may not be able to meet our 10 business day finalisation commitment. In such circumstances upon receipt of your clarification or documentation we will indicate to you when we expect to finalise your complaint.
Once we have finalised your complaint, we will advise you of our findings and any action we have taken. We will do this in writing, unless it has been mutually agreed that we can provide it to you verbally.
You have the right to make enquiries about the current status of your complaint at any time by contacting us.
8. Our six point complaint process
• We acknowledge – within three business days of receiving your complaint we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint.
• We review – we undertake an initial review of your complaint and determine what if any additional information or documentation may be required to complete an investigation. We may need to contact you to clarify details or request additional information where necessary.
• We investigate – within 10 business days of receiving your complaint we will investigate your complaint objectively and impartially, by considering the information you have provided us, our actions in relation to your dealings with us and any other information that could assist us in investigating your complaint.
• We respond – Following our investigation we will notify you of our findings and any actions we may have taken in regards to your complaint.
• We take action – where appropriate we amend our business practices or policies.
• We record – we will record your complaint for continuous improvement process and monitoring through regular review, your personal information will be recorded in accordance with relevant privacy legislation.
9. When you complain about one of our employees
If you complain about a member of our staff, we will treat your complaint confidentially, impartially and equally (giving equal treatment to all people). We will investigate your complaint thoroughly by finding out the relevant facts, speaking with the relevant people and verifying explanations where possible.
We will also treat our staff member objectively by:
• informing them of any complaint about their performance,
• providing them with an opportunity to explain the circumstances,
• providing them with appropriate support,
• Updating them on the complaint investigation and the result.
10. Complaints under investigation by a regulator or law enforcement agency
If your complaint is currently being investigated by a relevant federal, state or territory consumer protection regulator or law enforcement agency we may cease to take further action in relation to your complaint pending finalisation of their investigation.
We will assist any agency with their investigations.
11. Our complaint escalation process
Where possible, we will attempt to resolve your complaint at the first point of contact. If we are unable to resolve your complaint at the first point of contact, we will undertake an investigation of your complaint and provide you with our findings.
If you are satisfied with our proposed decision or actions, we will close your complaint and record the findings for our continuous improvement program.
However, if you are not satisfied with our proposed decision or actions, we will record this, and provide you with information on how to escalate your complaint, to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), for external review under their AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).
ATAS is an industry accreditation scheme that sets the benchmark of quality for the travel industry. ATAS is also responsible for monitoring our compliance with the ATAS Code of Conduct (the Code) and assisting in the resolution of complaints.
The Code sets the standards of good practice that ATAS participants must follow when dealing with their customers. As an ATAS participant we have agreed to be bound by the Code. If you would like to know more about the Code you can visit the ATAS website www.atas.com.au.
12. AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS)
Should you wish to speak to ATAS about your complaint you can contact them in the following ways:
• By completing a feedback form on their website www.atas.com.au
• By telephoning them on 9287 9900
• By writing to them at level 3, 309 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
• By emailing them at email@example.com
13. Your rights under Australian Consumer Law
You reserve the right to refer your complaint to your relevant federal, state or territory consumer protection agency at any time.