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important changes to ACS


Information current as at 23 April 2020

The significant and unprecedented challenges of the COVID19 pandemic for the travel sector have forced necessary changes to the AFTA Chargeback Scheme (ACS).

As a result of the COVID19 pandemic being declared and the cessation of future bookings for travelling being the reality of the current state of the travel industry, ACS will be suspended for new bookings from 1 May 2020.

ACS will be placed into hibernation with a claims process being implemented and introduced over the coming months as necessary.

All ATAS accredited agents who opted in as an ACS participating agency, who have made an eligible transaction via an eligible card until the 30 April 2020, will continue to have protection intact for those transactions. This will include sales on Virgin Australia and should the situation with Virgin progress to insolvency, claims would be eligible consistent with the hibernation plan being put in place.

All ACS participants have been notified of these changes and the necessary by-laws have been passed by the ACS Board to effect these changes.

AFTA has been in dialog with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in relation to the situation about card chargebacks and we are pleased to provide a short summary of the outcome of those discussions.

The RBA has written to the Card issuing banks, Card Acquiring banks and Card Schemes about reasonable and fair dealings for travel agents at these unprecedented times and the following outlines the detail.

The RBA has requested compliance with the following:

  • That a card holder application for a chargeback against a travel agent should be dealt with reasonably and given time to dispute the chargeback and not debit the travel agents bank account until this process has been followed;
  • That a card holder application for the chargeback for a refund against the travel agent where the card holder has already accepted a travel credit/voucher should not be successful;
  • That a card holder application for a chargeback against the travel agent as a result of an extended time delay, while the agent awaits the refund from the supplier, should not be successful if the agent’s terms and conditions with the customer allow for such a delay;
  • That an acceptance by all parties to the card schemes that more time than usual will be required to settle matters before taking action against the travel agent.

AFTA does note that these arrangements communicated by the RBA does not relate in the circumstances where the supplier has become insolvent and AFTA continues to explore options for how this may be addressed during the pandemic.

As further details as to the hibernation operations of ACS becomes available this will be communicated.

AFTA released an official media statement which you can read here.


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