Imagine the industry outrage if Qantas or Virgin increased their fares (or fuel charges) then tried to retrospectively apply the extra fee to consumers who had already paid. So why should a different standard apply when wholesalers try to do exactly the same thing? The issue has come to a head with travel agents complaining that some international wholesalers, screwed by the weaker Aussie dollar, are now asking clients for more money on packages they’ve already paid for.

In one case the “surcharge” amounts to almost $800. Industry body CATO has defended the approach, saying that many contracts are negotiated in US dollars and wholesalers should not take a hit if the Australian dollar falls. But surely currency movements are part of the game, and can in fact work to the wholesaler’s advantage when the Australian dollar is on the rise, as it has done for the past couple of years. Of course, wholesalers have every right to increase pricing – but not retrospectively. No-one else would be allowed to get away with it, and neither should they. Travel Trends: October 15, 2008

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