HONG KONG - Hong Kong customers of Zuji fear they will not be able to seek refunds for services they booked through the once-popular online travel platform, less than two months after The Straits Times reported its exit from Singapore.
The ST reported in November Zuji was suspended from issuing airline tickets through the International Air Transport Association's centralised air ticket billing service after it failed to pay up for tickets it sold to customers.
The report also said Zuji had cut staff in its Singapore office as it moved to focus on operations in Hong Kong.
Zuji's Hong Kong and Singapore websites have been closed since November.
Zuji Hong Kong on Dec 5 said on Facebook its "website will be taken offline due to the tight deadline for the new website development".
It added: "We aim to launch our new website in early Q1 2019. All passengers who have purchased from us should not be affected."
Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council said the travel agency is now facing 25 complaint cases, mainly involving air ticket refunds, totalling HK$130,000 (S$22,500), Apple Daily reported.
One complainant who gave her surname as Chung told Apple Daily she purchased three air tickets for HK$8,900 from Hong Kong to Osaka on Cathay Pacific via Zuji in June.
She was scheduled to fly on Sept 17 but her flight was scuttled by Super Typhoon Jebi which hit Osaka's Kansai and forced the Kansai International Airport which flooded as a result to shut down.
Ms Chung said she was initially promised a refund by Zuji Hong Kong to be paid out in 12 weeks, but this was later pushed to 16 weeks. Four months later today, she has yet to see the money.
"This is the 17th week and they are still saying the system is upgrading," Ms Chung told the Hong Kong daily.
"This is a delaying tactic... (I) fear it will close down," she added, her fear heightened after hearing that Zuji Hong Kong's travel agent licence has expired.
This was confirmed by the Travel Agents Registry (TAR) which said Zuji Hong Kong's licence expired on Wednesday (Jan 9) and the company did not renew it.
But a TAR spokesman noted that although Zuji Hong Kong may not continue to operate as a travel agent in Hong Kong, the company has given its assurance that it will honour the air ticket and hotel reservations made through its website.
Acknowledging the refund issues, Zuji Hong Kong on Friday apologised for the inconvenience caused.
"We regret to share that we are experiencing technical difficulties on processing refund," it said on Facebook.
"Please be reassured we are looking into this and shall take all necessary action to have our refund process resume as early as possible."
Zuji was once one of Asia-Pacific’s leading online travel agencies and offered flight, hotel and car rental bookings as well as package deals.