The Ministry of Justice and Public Security has opened an administrative procedure against CVC (CVCB3), Decolar, 123 Milhas, MaxMilhas and Viajanet due to consumer complaints to Senacon (National Consumer Secretariat) regarding the provision of services in 2020 and 2021.
The five tourism-related businesses surveyed had the highest number of complaints on the consumer.gov.br platform during the pandemic, when the segment suffered from mobility and travel restrictions.
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The Secretariat says it will investigate whether there have been violations of the Consumer Protection Code (CDC) in cancellations, rebookings, refunds, and reuse of travel credits and reservations. Among the main problems reported were the difficulty of modifying or canceling the contract/service and the difficulty or delay in returning the amounts paid and refunding, in addition to the deductions.
The government says companies can be fined up to 13 million reais, in addition to other penalties, if found guilty.
It also indicates that the number of complaints has experienced two peaks in these two years: the first, from April 2020, with the start of restrictions on tourism due to the pandemic, and the second, a year later. later, when companies should start reimbursing consumers. who had canceled trips.
Asked, CVC specifies in a note that “it has not yet been notified of the opening of the administrative procedure, but underlines that it follows travel policies in accordance with the legislation in force”. “The company values respect and transparency with all its customers and partners and continues with its service channels available for any questions”.
Decolar said that “it is trying to access the process, but adds that it maintains an ongoing dialogue with the bodies of the national consumer defense system, including Senacon, aimed at the continuous improvement of its customer service practices. customer base”.
MaxMil informed, also by note, that he had not yet been informed of the case and that he would remain at the disposal of the authorities to provide any necessary clarifications.
The consumer.gov.br site is a public and free service of the federal government which allows direct contact between consumers and businesses to resolve consumer disputes on the Internet.
Business participation is voluntary and is only permitted for those who formally sign up to the service. The consumer, in turn, must identify himself and present all the data and information relating to the claim.
Good for taking off
Last week, Senacon fined Decolar 2.5 million reais for offering different prices for hotel reservations in Brazil, depending on the consumer’s country (a practice known in the market as ” geotarification”).
The Secretariat says the fine was also imposed because the company favored foreign customers, hiding the availability of accommodation for Brazilian consumers – which National Consumer Secretary Rodrigo Roca says violates “the right most fundamental of consumers, which is the right to information”.
“It is the very essence of the contract and ensures transparency in the relationship with the consumer. Therefore, the information must be complete, free and useful, so that the consumer understands what he is buying or contracting, for the full exercise of the freedom of choice,” Roca said in a statement.
Complaint from a competitor
The complaint was filed by a competing company, Booking, and the evidence includes simulations with hotel price and availability research conducted via computers in São Paulo and Buenos Aires. Different values were recorded for the same bookings and accommodations, on the same dates, with values up to 29% higher for Brazilian consumers.
Decolar appealed the conviction saying that he has never practiced such practices and that the tax laws of the countries are different (which would lead to the price difference). Senacon partially accepted the appeal and reduced the fine from R$7.5 million to R$2.5 million.
It is no longer possible to appeal the decision to Senacon, but the company can appeal the fine to the ordinary courts, for example. Regarding the sentencing, Decolar said that “he reiterates that he does not practice ‘geotarification’ and that he contests the decision through the competent channels”.
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