STA Travel has been ordered to pay $14 million in penalties for misleading advertising related to a product that purported to let consumers change the dates of their flights without fees.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the Federal Court ordered STA to pay the penalties over advertising between March 2014 and August 2019 for its MultiFLEX Pass product, which sold for $149.
“Consumers were misled into purchasing the MultiFLEX Pass on the representation that they would not have to pay anything further for date changes to their flights, when, in fact, STA often charged consumers hundreds of dollars for changing their flights,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said on Friday.
The ACCC said in a quarter of cases where a customer was charged extra by STA Travel, the amount was almost double the additional airfare and tax imposed by the airline.
The competition watchdog initiated proceedings against STA Travel in March 2019 and the travel agency admitted its liability and made joint submissions with the ACCC to Federal Court.
STA Travel has been contacted for comment.