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Consumer complaints around holidays rise

Sept 22,2018
Mr. Kim bought a round-trip ticket from Incheon to Houston in June last year. He was planning to travel during the Chuseok holiday that October.

But just days before his planned departure, the airline emailed him to say his return flight would depart from Dallas due to flight cancellations.

That didn’t work for Kim and he asked for a full refund. The airline said less than half the money could be paid back but it could not compensate in any other way.

Consumers are getting jerked around more, according to the Korea Consumer Agency and the Fair Trade Commission on Friday, especially around the holidays. The most common consumer complaints were airline problems, glitches in parcel deliveries, gift certificate purchases and car towing.

According to data from the Korea Consumer Agency, customer complaints about air travel, delivery services, gift certificate purchases and car towing increased from 1,348 in 2015 to 1,689 in 2016 and 1,761 last year.

The most frequent complaints include airlines not giving full refunds when customers cancel flights and parcel delivery companies not taking responsibility for items that are broken during delivery.

The consumer agency said there tend to be more complaints around Chuseok because so much travel is booked and so many gifts are sent. The two agencies advised that it is best for consumers to take precautions.

“Customers need to thoroughly check contract terms when purchasing air tickets,” a spokesperson from the Fair Trade Commission said. “Especially for consigned luggage, the guidelines usually differ by airline, so customers need to take note of the exact requirements.”

While there are a lot of air tickets sold on discounts these days, those tickets can come with a lot of strings attached, such as penalties for refunds, so consumers should double-check the terms.

As for parcel deliveries, the consumer agency advised ordering goods a week before you need them. In case couriers lose parcels, customers should keep their invoices until deliveries are completed.

The consumer agency advised against buying gift certificates from online stores that try to get customers buy certificates in big batches for greater discounts. Checking the expiration date of the certificates is also important.

People who have already experienced such problems can call 1372 or go to www.ccn.go.kr or www.consumer.go.kr, which are government-run sites that offer consulting for consumer complaints.


BY JANG WON-SEOK [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]


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