What was supposed to have been a relaxing holiday for two friends has turned sour after a battle with a travel agent for a refund.
While Qatar Airways and accommodation booker Expedia have both provided refunds, the friends claim Helloworld Figtree owner Gerry Cignarella has refused to refund his commission - around $800.
"We just think we should be paid in full," said customer Ramona Adair. "We shouldn't have to lose money. But we've been having to fight to try and get it."
Ms Adair and friend Shellie Kiemski had booked a holiday in Hungary and Croatia with Helloworld Figtree for April.
The COVID-19 outbreak put an end to their holiday plans and Ms Adair said they spoke to staff at the Figtree travel agent about getting refunded for their flights only to be told that Qatar was just offering vouchers.
However, Ms Adair went to the Qatar website and found the airline was offering refunds - and that they had to apply through their travel agent.
Some of the refunds were later received by the Figtree franchise but Ms Adair said they only discovered this when they asked about the status of their refund.
"We were issued with approximately $1000, Ms Adair said.
"Then we let another month go by and then we inquired again and there was surprisingly another refund that had come in.
"About two weeks ago we got what we thought was the final amount - minus Gerry's commission. He's sent us an email saying Qatar and Expedia had paid in full but he was taking the commission to pay his staff."
That email stated that Qatar and Expedia paid Helloworld Figtree a combined commission of $790.28 - $395.14 each for Ms Adair and Ms Kiemski's bookings.
".. that fee is what goes towards our staff wages, store rent and various other business overheads," Mr Cignarella wrote in the email. "In this case, that value was retained here since making your final payment, for the services we provided in the booking process."
He added he felt they "had been treated fairly in these exceptional circumstances".
But Ms Adair disagreed with that assessment.
"As It was no fault of our own we thought we deserved to get a full refund," she said.
"I've spoken to two senior people at Helloworld - both of them have rung him and said that they strongly advised him to settle with us because we [are within our] right of getting a full refund."
Mr Cignarella was contacted by the Mercury about Ms Adair's complaint.
"That's between us and the client, okay," Mr Cignarella said. "We'll leave it at that."
Helloworld Sydney head office was also contacted for comment.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.