Pune consumer forum directs travel company to pay Rs55,000 to man who booked tour in 2014

The Pune District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed a prominent, Pune-based travel and tours company to refund a consumer Rs55,000 which he had paid as the advance booking amount along with interest at 9% per annum from 2014 as the honeymoon trip he had planned had to be canceled due to a death in the family. The consumer forum has further directed the travel and tours company to pay the consumer Rs10,000 as cost of litigation and for the mental agony caused. The order was passed by commission president Umesh V Jawalikar and members Kshitija B Kulkarni and Sangita M Deshmukh.

The consumer in question, Mangesh Sasane, who stays in Hadapsar, had filed a consumer complaint alleging deficiency in services on the part of the service provider, under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. He had sought relief in that the travel and tours company be directed to refund Rs55,000 along with interest at 18% pa, apart from a sum of Rs200,000 towards the mental agony, physical stress and loss suffered by him, and a sum of Rs50,000 towards cost of litigation.

Sasane first approached the travel and tours company on April 1, 2014 to inquire about a honeymoon package tour as his marriage was scheduled on May 11, 2014. The company representative informed Sasane about the Shimla-Kulu-Manali tour costing Rs77,260 that was planned on May 19, 2014. Sasane agreed to the price of this tour and booked it by paying an advance of Rs55,000. While his marriage preparations were underway, his grandmother took ill and died just a few hours before the marriage. Sasane conveyed this fact to the travel and tours company, and instructed them to keep the amount paid by him for a future tour. Sasane, in his complaint, stated that he waited for one-and-a-half year but the company did not provide him any tour despite being a well-known name in the business. Rather, the company canceled his trip in June 2015 without informing him, and hasn’t refunded him the advance amount till date. Sasane said that he sent legal notice to the company but it neither refunded the advance amount he had paid nor the amount that remained after deducting his air ticket reservation charges.

However, the travel and tours company refuted all of Sasane’s allegations while admitting that he had booked the tour by making an advance payment of Rs55,000. The company also admitted that he canceled the said tour due to the death of his grandmother by informing them to keep the amount for a future tour. According to the company, upon Sasane’s request, they informed him that they did not have another departure in the same month and that they could not postpone the said departure and therefore, to avail the future tour, Sasane would have to cancel the said tour as per the terms and conditions, and keep the remaining amount for the future tour so that he could travel whenever he wanted.

The company claimed that after confirming the same with Sasane, they canceled his booking as per the terms and conditions of the tour and informed him that the cancellation charges would be 60% which amounted to Rs46,359. The company denied Sasane’s allegation that it avoided refunding the tour cost to him and stated that Sasane’s journey was by air and that he was waiting for air cancellation charges from the airlines which too they informed him that they would refund him once they received the same from the airlines.

According to the travel and tours company, Sasane wanted to keep the amount for a future tour. At that time, the company explained to him that for booking a future tour, he would need to first cancel the existing tour as the company had already made all the arrangements for the tour and the services such as air tickets, hotel booking etc. for which, the company had already made the payment to the suppliers. The services had to be booked in advance so that the promised services would be given to the guests, and they could enjoy the tour to the full extent, the company said. Therefore, if the complainant canceled the tour at the last moment, a mere six days before departure, it led to heavy cancellation charges from the suppliers and hence, the complainant had to bear the cancellation charges and he could keep the remaining amount.


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