Money: California sues travel sites FlightHub, JustFly for 'swindling' customers and 'deceptive' fees - PressFrom - Canada
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Money California sues travel sites FlightHub, JustFly for 'swindling' customers and 'deceptive' fees

13:00  06 october  2019
13:00  06 october  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Instead, JustFly charges undisclosed cancellation fees of to 0 per flight, even when customers seek to cancel a reservation just minutes repeatedly pressures customers to purchase third-party travel insurance that is largely useless for customers and a profit center for JustFly .

JustFly offers amazing deals to flights all around the world. JustFly offers a wide catalog of cruise options for all traveller types! Flights. Hotels. JustFly customer satisfaction. 95%. Powered by: Extended Cancellation Policy Book with confidence.

a group of people posing for the camera: Bernadette Villareal, second from left, with her family in the Philippines. She contacted CBC News requesting help getting her $5,200 refund from FlightHub for cancelled tickets.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Bernadette Villareal, second from left, with her family in the Philippines. She contacted CBC News requesting help getting her $5,200 refund from FlightHub for cancelled tickets. The state of California has launched a lawsuit against online travel agencies FlightHub and JustFly for alleged "unscrupulous business practices, designed to fleece the average consumer."

FlightHub and JustFly's parent company is Montreal-based FlightHub Group, formerly known as Momentum Ventures.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court on Sept. 19, accuses the company of "swindling its customers for years" with practices such as charging "deceptive, false, and hidden fees," advertising enticing airfares that don't exist and failing to deliver prompt refunds.

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repeatedly pressures customers to purchase third-party travel insurance that is largely useless for customers and a profit center for JustFly . steers customers into receiving "Future Travel Credits" that come with so many absurd limitations and requirements that they routinely expire unused.

Filed Under: FlightHub , JustFly , online travel sites , San Francisco, San Francisco City Attorney The two sites are JustFly and FlightHub . The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court says that It asks for an injunction stopping the allegedly illegal practices, restitution to customers and a fine of

"We've received complaints and done investigations that show that there is a variety of practices that are unlawful or unfair under California law," said San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state.

"What we're trying to do is to stop a practice so that more people are not victimized."

A spokesperson for FlightHub and JustFly told CBC News that the lawsuit focuses solely on JustFly and that its claims are baseless, because the agency is transparent and compliant with regulations governing the industry.

"These allegations are unfounded and JustFly intends to prove it," said Pierre Methé, FlightHub's director of customer service, in an email.

'I feel so stressed'

According to the suit, the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation have received more than 2,000 customer complaints about JustFly and FlightHub in the past two years — more than any other online travel site.

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The two sites are JustFly and FlightHub . The unfair business practices lawsuit alleges the undisclosed fees include seat assignment fees in addition to those charged by airlines and "unconscionable" cancellation fees of to 0 for flights canceled within 24 hours, even though

JustFly offers millions of accommodations worldwide with no booking fees ! JustFly offers a wide catalog of cruise options for all traveller types! Flights. JustFly customer satisfaction. 95%. Powered by: Extended Cancellation Policy Book with confidence.

FlightHub is geared toward Canadian customers while JustFly targets the U.S. market.

Methé said customers purchased more than five million airline tickets using the agencies in 2018 and that the "vast majority" are "highly satisfied" with their service.

But customer complaints have sparked concerns among state officials and consumer organizations.

Following its latest review in September, the Better Business Bureau maintained an ongoing consumer alert for both FlightHub and JustFly due to an established pattern of complaints including refund and billing issues.

Ed Lee, Dennis Herrera are posing for a picture: San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera, right, has filed suit against JustFly and FlightHub for 'unscrupulous business practices, designed to fleece the average consumer.'© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera, right, has filed suit against JustFly and FlightHub for 'unscrupulous business practices, designed to fleece the average consumer.'

The Office de la protection du consommateur — the consumer protection agency in Quebec where FlightHub Group is based — reports it's concerned after receiving 77 complaints involving both agencies over the past two years.

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The JustFly website is a popular travel site for consumers to compare flight prices and book flights. The lawsuit, filed today in San Francisco Superior Court, claims unlawful and deceptive business practices " JustFly is not in the travel business. They're in the hidden fee business," said Herrera.

Looking for new JustFly reviews 2019? Find complaints and reviews about justfly .com: Tornado loss of home withNo compassion from just fly . Justfly left me stranded in England when Thomas Cooke went bust. They cancelled my return flight with Jet Blue but didnt offer me a refund and wanted to

CBC News has received more than 20 unsolicited complaints about FlightHub over the past three months.

They include one from Bernadette Villareal of Airdrie, Alta., who reached out on Tuesday. She was distraught because she still hadn't received a promised $5,200 refund for five airline tickets she cancelled on May 28 — more than four months ago.

"I feel so furious, I feel so sad, I feel so stressed," said Villareal in tears. "I don't know what to do."

In March, she booked the tickets through FlightHub for a family trip to the Philippines in June. But then her father, who lived in the Philippines, died, forcing Villareal to cancel the tickets. She repurchased them for an earlier date so the family could attend the funeral.

When Villareal's promised refund for the cancelled tickets didn't materialize, she continually called and emailed FlightHub with no success, she said.

"I don't know why this company is doing this," she said. "It's not a small amount of money and we're not rich."

a screenshot of a cell phone: The Better Business Bureau has posted an alert for JustFly and FlightHub after identifying a pattern of complaints with the two online travel agencies. © Better Business Bureau The Better Business Bureau has posted an alert for JustFly and FlightHub after identifying a pattern of complaints with the two online travel agencies.

Shortly after CBC News contacted FlightHub, the agency apologized to Villareal for her experience and said her $5,200 refund is coming by mail.

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“ Deceptive - horrible customer service!” However, Justfly customer service insisted that I could not even cancel the reservation, because that was a change. I suggested the airline would want to know we would not be on the plane and could resell the seats.

FLIGHTHUB CARES FlightHub provides updates through email notifications, 24/7 customer support, and reminders for all of your travel needs. ONLINE BOOKING MADE EASY Our travel search engine uses proprietary software to provide the cheapest options available for airline tickets.

Methé told CBC News that Villareal caused the long delay by filing a claim for the missing money with her debit card provider, which had to be sorted out first.

Villareal said she didn't file a claim until July 18 — after waiting more than six weeks for her refund.

Misspelled name fees?

Patricia McPhee in Bowden, Alta., also recently contacted CBC News.

On Sept. 13, she booked a flight to the Philippines over the phone and said the FlightHub agent misspelled her travel companion's name by one letter on the ticket.

During one followup call which McPhee recorded, FlightHub blamed her for the mistake and suggested she may have to cancel and rebook the ticket, plus pay a $465 cancellation fee.

During another call, McPhee said, FlightHub told her the airline involved, EVA Air, would do the fix for $300.

On Sept. 20, she called EVA Air and learned that it wouldn't charge for the fix, which must be done by FlightHub.

On Sept. 23, CBC News contacted FlightHub about McPhee's case. Later that day, the agency fixed the mistake at no cost.

"It was nerve-racking," said McPhee. "It should have been fixed within 10 minutes. It took 10 days."

FlightHub said it had been working to resolve the issue long before the inquiry from CBC News and that it never requested a name-change fee.

"What a crock of garbage," said McPhee in response. She's glad to hear that the state of California has launched a lawsuit against the company.

"It's unfortunate that it takes a whole [state] to sue someone for them to get the hint."

Although only customers in California could benefit financially from the suit, its wider aim is to stop FlightHub Group from engaging in alleged unfair business practices.

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