Furious holidaymakers are calling on regulators to investigate after their Melbourne travel agent shuttered its shop earlier this month and stopped returning phone calls.
Bentleigh East based One World Travel suddenly newspapered its windows some weeks ago and posted a notice claiming to have appointed administrators.
Its website was taken down, listed contact numbers disconnected and calls to numbers associated with the company’s director, whose whereabouts is unknown, bounce back.
“One World Travel entered voluntary administration as of 3rd of June ’19,” a notice posted on the window of the travel agent’s shop reads.
While none of this is particularly strange in cases of voluntary administration, there’s one problem: As far as corporate regulator ASIC is concerned, One World Travel is still registered for trading and no administrators have come forward claiming to represent the business.
Melbourne-based solicitor Ilya Furman says he represents 50 customers who have been left out of pocket by the travel agent’s disappearance.
“It ranges from airline tickets to full on packages, one couple had booked an Alaskan cruise for $30,000,” he tells SmartCompany.
Furman brought the matter to the attention of Victoria Police earlier this month, but was passed on to Consumer Affairs Victoria and then to ASIC.
“It’s been a bit of a runaround,” he says.
“At the moment we’re hoping either ASIC or another statutory authority takes action.”
One customer initially raised the alarm when contacted by a vacation provider earlier this month inquiring about why they had never received payment for September bookings which were supposed to have been processed by One World.
The vacation company received a $500 deposit from the agent, the $8,500 balance payment remains outstanding.
Letters of demand sent to One World earlier this month have received no response, leaving disgruntled customers to suspect the business has been abandoned.
Typically when a company enters administration a notice is filed with ASIC and the status of the company is updated, but documents accessed on Wednesday morning confirm One World Travel Pty Ltd is still registered to trade.
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ASIC, which typically does not comment on investigations, declined to confirm when asked whether it was looking into the case on Wednesday morning, but reiterated the company is still listed as “registered”.
Creditor enquiries against One World have been building up in the weeks since the company shut its shop and number in excess of 30, according to CreditorWatch data.
An email address listed on the company’s shop notice returns a confirmation email, reading “Your inquiry has been received and response will be sent after it’s been reviewed and assessed”.
Web archive searches for One World reveal the company claimed to be an Australian Federation of Travel Agents (ATA) accredited company, although a search of the ATAS database returns no results for the business.
The legal section of the company’s website, which usually includes privacy information, terms and conditions, contains placeholder Latin text.
Victoria Police was asked for an update on any ongoing investigation into the company but did not respond before deadline.