On Tuesday afternoon, a local travel agency, Sky Travel & Tours Pte Ltd sent messages to its costumers, stating that the company had shuttered and that its services would cease immediately. Reporters from various media, reported on how were customers affected by the sudden closure of the travel agency.
One of the affected customers from the sudden closure, a 68-year-old cleaner, Madam Teo Ino Meo, was reported to have had saved money and was ready to travel to Hokkaido with a group of 28 people for their one week trip to see snow for the very first time when she received the message from the company only hours before her flight.
The initial plan was to meet the travel agent at the airport to get their tickets. However, the agent failed to see them and was unable to be reached. Therefore, she has not had any explanation from the company for her loss.
Lianhe Zaobao quoted Mdm Teo saying that they could not contact the tour agency and had paid the travel fees in full. She had used money from working as a cleaner to join the tour.
Mdm Teo along with a friend signed up for a 7D5N tour to Hokkaido worth $2327 and paid $500 as deposit in August during a travel fair. Only about two weeks ago, they went to the agent and paid the balance.
One of Mdm Teo’s friend, Mdm Pek said. “I have saved the money that my children have given to me and had wanted to see snow and experience winter with my friends. My eldest daughter-in-law had even brought me to buy over few hundred dollars worth of winter clothes.”
“I was so angry. My bags were all packed and I was ready to leave that night,” she said in Mandarin and added that she is very disappointed.
Mdm Teo and her friend have filed claims with the Small Claims Tribunals and made police reports. They said that they met others who had done the same.
Desmond Lim who is a DJ with 98.8FM said that he was not briefed about the details of the tour up till Tuesday afternoon and that the tour agency is very irresponsible to be behaving in such a manner.
Mdm Teo and two of her friends had been pacing in front of the non-defunct shop for a few hours and only left after a call was made to Desmond Lim who consoled them for their loss.
Local media visited the office which is located at the basement of People’s Park and found that the glass door was locked with the lights off. A notice of an emergency number attached in front of the door.
However, the call was left unanswered.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), a Government Organised Non-Government Organisation (GONGO) stated that it had received seven complaints against Sky Travel & Tours since Monday (6 December).
Seah Seng Choon who is Executive Director of CASE, advised affected customers to try to contact the agency regarding the status of their tour packages. He also suggested those who had bought travel insurance to contact their providers.
Seah, who is also President of Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training (FAST), also said that travel agents should protect customers’ interests by purchasing insurance for prepayments.
He said, “We advise consumers to engage CaseTrust-Natas accredited travel agencies as they are committed to fair trading and transparency towards consumers.”
More than often, customers are unable to get refunds from such closure despite approaching CASE or the small claims tribunal for assistance.