24 February 2021
MAVCOM has finally taken the bold step to demand that airlines refund affected consumers. In our letter to the editor on July 2020, FOMCA had expressed deep disappointment with the airlines industry for refusing to refund consumers and demanding that consumers accept credit to be used by a stipulated time, instead of their cash refunds.
Consumers have a right to refunds as the service had been cancelled.
Complaints by consumers to MAVCOM were given stock answers that the airlines have been informed to respond to the consumers complaints. The National Consumer Complaints Center (NCCC) request to MAVCOM to facilitate prompt refund to consumers also met with failure.
We had indeed shared our utter disappointment with MAVCOM’s approach towards consumer complaints and request for refunds. We had complained that instead of protecting consumers it allows the airlines leeway to refuse giving consumers their refunds.
Yet, finally MAVCOM recently has directed airlines to refund the affected consumers for flights that had been cancelled as a result of international and local travel restrictions necessitated by the covid-19 pandemic. The instruction from MAVCOM should be a clear and explicit directive to the airlines to refund the affected consumers not a request.
MAVCOM functions under the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code and thus should act to protect consumers as the first priority. FOMCA fully supports the statement by MAVCOM that the airlines should refund to affected consumers the amount equivalent to the cost of the ticket at the time of purchase, including taxes, charges and fees under any written law and charges for optional services.
FOMCA would also urge that the airlines should also add interests for the time that they held the money of the consumers. This is only fair.
FOMCA urges MAVCOM to strongly protect consumers in this crucial times, when many consumers have lost their jobs or have had their incomes reduced. Still others may have been themselves or family members affected by the covid and thus are in no position to go for holidays.
The refunds would help them in a small way for their daily essentials.
Without a strong position by the regulators, the airlines would certainly impose unfair and unjust terms to the consumers, as they had already done previously. The only protection for the Malaysian Aviation consumer is the protection accorded by MAVCOM