ASTA slams travel agency ‘Ponzi scheme’ article | TravelResearchOnline

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ASTA slams travel agency ‘Ponzi scheme’ article

ASTA slammed a recent USA Today article and defended the industry over claims some agencies are misusing travelers’ deposits. The article claimed some travel agencies were effectively operating Ponzi-style schemes which ASTA refuted in a statement. The article said travelers’ deposits were being used to pay for earlier customers’ tickets.

The news website specifically called out Florida based BookIt.com and cited complaints made about NAWAS and EF Tours. USA TODAY claimed ‘many travel agencies operate Ponzi-style schemes’ as the ‘coronavirus has exposed a secret underbelly of the travel business.’

ASTA has taken issue with the article which suggests the problem is widespread.

“To suggest that this is the business practice of all travel agencies is categorically false. When travel agencies join ASTA, they pledge to abide by its 12-point code of ethics, which prohibits business practices like the ones described in this article,” ASTA said in a statement.

“Members found to have violated the code can be, and have been, expelled from the association. That being said, the number of legitimate consumer complaints against ASTA member agencies warranting the imposition of discipline is extremely low.”

“Any traveler who works with an ASTA member and has a problem has the option to file an official complaint with the association – and our consumer affairs team will investigate the matter and work with the consumer and the member to achieve an amicable resolution,” ASTA added.

“Unsurprisingly, the travel companies referenced in this article are not ASTA members.”

ASTA concedes as with any industry sector,’there are ‘a few bad apples’ but the article misrepresents the travel agent community as a whole.

“The actions taken by the agencies cited in the piece are anything but representative.”

Written by Ray Montgomery, US Editor for TRO Travelmole

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