‘Online travel company is not just a booking agent, but must also supervise’

In a complaint filed against Make My Trip, by consumer Anita A Hebbalkar, Ganapatiwada, Khandola, The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, north Goa, ruled in favour of the consumer and asked the online travel company to refund the full amount of the holiday package.

As per the case, Hebbalkar purchased a holiday package, Mumbai- Kashmir from Make My Trip for a seven-day trip from May 22-28 2018 for Rs1.05 lakh. She and her family members chose to travel to Mumbai by bus on May 21 2018 and accordingly availed transport service from Make My Trip by purchasing the bus ticket for Rs 4410 and started their holiday after boarding the VRL bus in time. The bus was to reach at Mumbai at 7.50 am on May 22 but, despite no traffic problem, clear road, for unknown reasons the bus was diverted at Sawantwadi for almost one hour on account of which it reached late at 10 am. Consequently she and her family members missed the flight to Srinagar.

Upon contacting Make My Trip she was told to book another flight at her own cost and expense which she did not book as it was late in the evening and her family would have missed the best part of the seven days tour. They therefore returned back to Goa by booking a return Jet airways flight through Make My Trip and paying Rs 15,576 for air tickets. Upon returning a complaint was lodged with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the grievance emailed her to the company with demand for refund. The company refused after which Hebbalkar approached the consumer court.

According to her, Make My Trip was at fault since the bus did not reach the destination in time due to the negligence of the bus in taking unwanted diversion. She asked for refund of Rs 1.3 lakh along with interest at the rate of 18 per cent till the actual date of payment and a sum of Rs two lakh for monetary loss and undue harassment, mental torture and agony.

After hearing the arguments of both the parties, the Forum observed that, the bus not reaching on time cannot be the fault of Make My Trip as the terms and conditions of the ticket state that the company will not be responsible if the bus operator does not adhere to the scheduled timings. Hebbalkar is not entitled from the company the amount of Rs 4,410 paid for the bus tickets, Rs 6,897for the return ticket from Mumbai to Goa booked for May 28, Rs 15,756 paid towards return ticket on May 22 via Jet airways and Rs2000 from Goa airport to home.

However the Forum observed that, since she had purchased an holiday package from Make My Trip, the company was not merely the online booking agents for the tour but also had to supervise and look after the guests from the commencement till the end of the tour. “They were actually the participatory agency in the holiday package,” said the Forum adding that, company ought to be considerate and return at least the cost of the tour. The Forum ordered the company to refund Rs1.05 lakh with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from April 5 2018 till its actual payment, pay Rs15,000 as compensation for the mental tension and Rs 10,000 as cost of litigation.

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