ACTA has made public its call for Sunwing to include agent - not just direct - bookings to settle a Quebec consumer class-action lawsuit.
As Open Jaw Quebec has reported, the lawsuit, dubbed "L'affaire champagne" in Quebec, dates back to 2017 and has only recently been settled.
This month, a Quebec judge issued a ruling accepting the settlement offered by Sunwing to resolve a class-action lawsuit where it was alleged that Sunwing breached consumer protection law by advertising that Sunwing travellers would receive a complimentary glass of champagne when travelling, when what was allegedly served was sparkling wine - that does not hold the protected champagne designation.
The approved settlement gives all consumers residing in Quebec who purchased travel with Sunwing between 10FEB, 2014 and 30APR, 2017 - approximately 1.45M consumers - access to a 7 per cent discount code (valid on discounted travel and with no blackouts), with unlimited use for up to five travellers, for any Sunwing trip leaving any airport in Quebec or Ottawa.
While the premise of the class-action lawsuit earned it the tongue-in-cheek nickname, according to ACTA, the terms of the settlement are serious for the province's agencies and advisors.
ACTA says that settlement negatively impacts travel agencies and independent travel agents because it required consumers to book direct with Sunwing with a discount code, bypassing travel agents.
The organization says that it and other industry stakeholders, have engaged in extensive advocacy, meeting with Sunwing senior leadership calling for a settlement that does not exclude travel agents in the booking process.
Consumers have 3 years to book and don’t have to prove they were Sunwing customers
“Many of the original bookings would have been travel agent clients and notably, consumers do not need to furnish proof of having purchased earlier travel with Sunwing,” said Wendy Paradis. “So the potential here could be huge in terms of how many people might try to use this code to book over the next three years, as per the terms of the settlement.”
Sunwing will be launching a website where consumers can register for the code, which will accept applications for 60 days. Sunwing must also widely advertise the settlement on social media, according to the terms of the settlement.
“Currently, the discount specifically excludes travel agencies and independent travel agents because the code is only valid on the consumer website,” said Paradis.
ACTA says it will continue to advocate to Sunwing leadership and call for Sunwing to allow travel agents to make bookings for their clients--- and to pay commission on bookings using the discount code.
UPDATED 27FEB: Sunwing issued a statement to Open Jaw, clarifying the following:
"The discount is not available to all consumers, it is specific to class members only. A website will be set up for class members, who will be required to register on the website and Sunwing will then verify if the registrant is a class member. Once verified, Sunwing will email the class member a user account and password to access the website."