ACTA Earns Retraction Of ‘Grossly Unfair’ Comments In YVR Newspaper
A story about a Vancouver lawyer who is suing airlines over what he calls ‘hidden fees’ contained erroneous statements that the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies believes “could cause severe damage to travel agents.”
The statements were in a May 19 story in the North Shore News headlined ‘NV Lawyer Files Suit Over Airline ‘Taxes.’ The reporter quoted lawyer Jim Poyner, who has initiated a class action suit against British Airways over the inclusion in ticket prices of what he calls hidden fees such as fuel surcharges.
The offending sentences began with Poyner saying “as far as he knows,” these extra fees are charged only when tickets are purchased from travel agents. The final sentence stated, “People who buy their tickets online directly through the airlines don’t seem to be hit with the same hidden fees.”
In a blistering response to the story, ACTA director of communications and marketing Gary Ralph slammed the comments made by Poyner: “What nonsense!” Ralph wrote. “Even Poyner admits, in his quote, he doesn’t know what he is talking about when he uses expressions like ‘as far as (I know)’ and ‘don’t seem to be.’ Yet these suppositions are reported as fact.”
Ralph says Poyner’s statements “are not only grossly unfair, wrong and ridiculous, they could cause severe damage to travel agents who provide consumers with some of the best travel experiences in Canada.”
ACTA says that tickets bought through travel agents are not only highly competitive with those purchased through other channels, but can often be cheaper because agents know how to find the best deals for consumers. Tickets bought online from other sources include the same fees and taxes as those bought through agencies.
Ralph says the travel agent association is fighting hard for fare transparency so that fees including fuel surcharges will not be hidden or included under the umbrella of taxes. “We would have agreed with most of what lawyer Poyner said if he hadn’t been so cavalier about his unfounded claims about travel agents,” says Ralph.
According to the North Shore News editor, Jim Poyner has told the publication that he believed the statements in contention were correct at the time he made them. He now acknowledges that he was wrong.