Consumer Protection BC is warning travellers who booked through Richmond travel agent Sinorama that they’re at risk of not receiving services they bought.
The provincial consumer protection body inspected the business and decided to suspend its license and freeze its bank accounts after deciding it did not have enough money to operate as a travel agent.
“What we found concerned us,” Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, spokesperson for Consumer Protection BC, told the Richmond News.
“If a company doesn’t have enough money they may not be able to meet their future obligations. Seeing that kind of thing is a red flag for us. It could put people at risk.”
In this case, travellers may have paid Sinorama for their holidays but Sinorama may not have paid the hotels and tour operators.
Consumer Protection BC issued a notice of license suspension to Xiwang Wang, the CEO of Sinorama Travel Vancouver Inc., on Aug. 9. Citing the report by inspection staff that found the business did not have enough working capital.
The letter to Wang noted Sinorama’s license to operate in the travel industry was being suspended as a matter of public interest.
Calls to Sinorama’s Vancouver office went unanswered on Tuesday, and the company has not posted a statement online. The glass door to its office on Westminster Highway was locked, and a notice that the office space is for rent was posted next to the notice of license suspension.
Chabeaux-Smith said her agency decided to inspect Sinorama after the consumer protection office in Quebec didn’t renew a travel license to Sinorama Vacances Inc., a travel agent in that province. The Quebec Sinorama and B.C. Sinorama are separate businesses and separate legal entities, but are linked through ownership.
She said up to 4,000 customers in Western Canada and the U.S. could be affected, but that no one has approached her agency saying their travel was not booked.
People who booked travel online with Sinorama or at its Richmond location are advised to check that their flights, hotels and excursions have been booked and paid for. That means looking at the itinerary and calling the supplier to independently confirm your reservation.
Travellers who cannot confirm their bookings are advised to contact their credit card company or their travel insurance provider to request a refund of Sinorama’s charges.
Consumer Protection BC licenses businesses in several industries where there is inherent risk to the consumer, including travel agents, debt collectors, payday loan providers and funeral providers, home inspectors, telemarketers and film production.