Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Decision on AirAsia case is deferred

08 April 2010

Kota Kinabalu: The Consumer Claims Tribunal on Tuesday reserved judgement to April 26 on the case of an air traveller who bought a budget airline ticket online for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne and was charged in Australian currency (AUD$).

Dr Ranjit Mathew Oommen is claiming a total of RM10,000 as he believes he was overcharged when the respondent, Air Asia Berhad, applied AUD$ on the airfare.

Tribunal President Datuk Dr Lawrence S.H Thien said he needed more time to reach a decision after listening to the claimant's stand and respondent's defence on the case.

According to Dr Ranjit, he booked a flight from KL to Melbourne through the Air Asia website on Feb. 10, 2009 and was very surprised to see that the flight was charged in Australian currency amounting to AUD$5,205 when he received his credit card statement.

He claimed that he had no knowledge that the airfare would be charged in Australian currency as he thought he would be paying in Ringgit.

Dr Ranjit told the Tribunal he did make an effort to call the respondent but his plight was not attended to accordingly.

The respondent who was represented by its legal executive Hanie Izawatie Ahmad Kamil said in its rebuttal that the claimant made an original booking from Melbourne to KL at 8am on Feb. 10, 2009 as shown in the records of the airline's website.

And the claimant contacted its call centre agent of the airline a few hours later to change the route from KL to Melbourne on the same day, the respondent said.

She has also submitted documents from their IT server that records all customer online transaction containing proof that the claimant made the original booking at 8am for a flight from Melbourne to KL on Feb. 10, 2009.

"The original booking was not cancelled and the reference from the original booking was used again for the new booking when the claimant changed the route.

"Normally, we would charge our customer the airfare he or she books in our website based on the origin of the flight and we do not allow refund of the airfare, unless in death and medical reason cases, and a cancellation fee would be charged.

"Also, at 9.43am on Feb. 10, 2009, our worker at the call centre agent made a comment that Dr Ranjit called to inform the mistake and made flight changes from KL to Melbourne. Although the claimant booked the flight when he was in KL, the airfare was still generated in AUD$ as the payment made comes from where it originates," she said.

Asked on a voice record where Dr Ranjit called the Call Centre Agent to inform the mistake and made a change of flight, the respondent said the voice record was only kept for six months and it is not available now.

To Thien's query on what the claimant should do in the first place to avoid the airfare being charged in AUD$ the respondent replied that the original booking should be cancelled and a fresh one done so that the correct currency can be charged.

She added that the payment made for the original booking that has been cancelled can be used to offset a new booking and cancellation fee would be charged.

Dr Ranjit denied that he made the original booking for a flight from Melbourne to KL at 8am on Feb 10, 2009 and claimed that the respondent had changed the system.

As for getting refund, the respondent said they do not allow refund as stated on their terms and conditions where payment for flight is unrefundable under its Article 5.1.

According to Thien, the claimant has sued the wrong respondent as the correct one would be Air Asia X Sdn Bhd that collects his airfare money.

In this issue, the respondent said she is not going to go for the technicality as the evidence is still the same for the case.

However, Thien worried that the award would not be workable for the claimant as he would not be collecting his award from the right respondent.

The claimant said he only knows that he deals with Air Asia as printed on the flight printout from the Air Asia website.

Hence, Thien promised to give his written decision in 14 days as the implication of the case is serious.

Daily Express

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