Qantas Sued Over Accidental Lifetime Club Card

Qantas Sued Over Accidental Lifetime Club Card

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I guess it’s nice to see that people being overly litigious isn’t just limited to the United States?

Qantas’ accidental lifetime club membership

The Sydney Morning Herald has the story of an interesting case that was recently heard in court. In December 2018, an Australian woman named Catriona Wilson received her Qantas Club card in the mail, after purchasing a Qantas Club partner membership. However, rather than listing an expiration date, the card listed “LIFETIME” under the “EXPIRY” section.

Qantas hasn’t sold lifetime lounge memberships since 2007, so naturally this caused some confusion. Wilson assumed that as a loyal Qantas customer, she had been given some kind of a reward.

Wilson’s husband reportedly called Qantas following this, and was informed that the lifetime membership was the result of a lucky draw. Wilson thought she hit the jackpot:

“I thought, ‘this is great, very exciting,’ it’s one of those things – you don’t win raffles or prizes. For something like that to come in the mail is pretty exciting.”

Wilson managed to use her membership without issue for nearly three years, until May 2021. At that point she tried to access the Qantas Club at Melbourne Airport, and was informed that her membership had lapsed. The staff ended up allowing her in with a guest pass, but Wilson describes the situation as embarrassing, and says she was upset and distressed.

Following the incident, Wilson tried to contact Qantas to have the system updated to reflect her lifetime membership, only to not hear back. At that point she filed a complaint with the Airline Customer Advocate. Only after that did Qantas inform her that a lifetime membership was “not something that they have in place.” A customer service representative clarified that there were no records of any promotions for a lifetime membership at the time that the card was issued.

Qantas offered Wilson a 20% discount on a Qantas Club membership, but refused to reinstate the lifetime membership that she believed she was entitled to. She responded by asking for a two year membership at no cost, though Qantas wouldn’t budge.

At this point the traveler took Qantas to court

With Wilson not getting anywhere, she made the decision to take the case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Wilson requested that the lifetime membership be honored, or alternatively that she get the equivalent value in frequent flyer points (an estimated market value of $9,975).

When the case was heard, a Qantas representative claimed that a lifetime Qantas Club membership hadn’t been available for purchase for over a decade, though wasn’t able to explain how this card was issued.

On the day of the trial, Qantas allegedly offered Wilson a four year Qantas Club membership and some frequent flyer miles, in exchange for a confidentiality agreement.

As Wilson describes it, at this point she was “in so deep that it was double or nothing,” and that “it was all about the principle and abominable customer service.”

In the end, the VCAT sided with Qantas. As was written in the decision:

“This is not a situation where the respondent offered a benefit or service and failed to supply it. It was a windfall. As such, the applicable law is that which applies to a benefit obtained in error or through a mistake. The mistake vitiates any intention on the part of Qantas to give the benefit to the applicant.

After the case was dismissed, Qantas requested that Wilson cut up the card and send a photo of it to the customer service team. Instead Wilson sent the card to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, informing him that her entire family would fly other carriers going forward.

My take on this Qantas Club controversy

This is quite a story.

On the one hand, assuming the facts are as presented, I don’t think Qantas handled this situation very professionally. The airline did indeed issue a card suggesting it was valid for a lifetime, and the couple reportedly called Qantas and was told that this was correct. Once Qantas clarified that this wasn’t accurate, a 20% discount on a membership isn’t exactly generous, especially if you want to keep a disgruntled customer. Furthermore, Qantas still hasn’t clarified how this actually happened — how was this card accidentally issued?

On the other hand, I also think that it crosses the line to try to sue an airline for something that you never paid for, and were never entitled to. Yes, Qantas absolutely provided bad customer service here, and I think it would be fair to go to the media about this incident, because it’s an interesting story of bad customer service, if nothing else. But to sue over this, and expect that you’re entitled to it? That crosses the line, in my opinion.

Frankly they should have taken the offer they were given on the day of the hearing, where they could have gotten a four year Qantas Club membership and some frequent flyer miles.

Bottom line

Somehow Qantas accidentally issued a lounge membership card that indicated that a membership was valid for a lifetime, even though the airline hadn’t issued these kinds of memberships in over a decade. While a traveler managed to use this membership for nearly three years, at that point she was informed that this was an error, and that she didn’t in fact have a lifetime membership.

The traveler decided to take Qantas to court over this, and ultimately lost. Even if Qantas handled this situation poorly, it was ultimately an error, and nothing more…

What’s your take on this lifetime Qantas Club story? Who is in the wrong?

Conversations (55)
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  1. Gray Guest

    I don't think she should have accepted the settlement, but mainly because I've got a bit of an issue with them approaching her right as they're going into court to only then offer a settlement. It's almost like their attitude was "Oh, crud, she decided to show up..."

  2. Euro Aviation Guest

    Possibly an employee at the company that makes those cards grabbed the old embossing cliché "LIFETIME" accidentally maybe not wanting to assemble the proper expiration date type. Yet by 2018 we'd expect cards printed by computer printer since embossing is passé. So maybe they selected the wrong entry from a pull-down screen menu.

  3. Randy Diamond

    QF should have honored the LT card. QF already has in place the system that provides LT memberships - pre-2007.

  4. Anonymous_Traveler Guest

    I am actually surprised by these comments calling her entitled. If the facts were as presented, Qantas gave her a lifetime membership. Whether she paid or not shouldn’t matter. They gave her a card with “LIFETIME” as the expiration, then a company representative told her that she did indeed have a lifetime membership. Regretting an action isn’t the same as making a mistake.
    If you went to get an oil change and were told...

    I am actually surprised by these comments calling her entitled. If the facts were as presented, Qantas gave her a lifetime membership. Whether she paid or not shouldn’t matter. They gave her a card with “LIFETIME” as the expiration, then a company representative told her that she did indeed have a lifetime membership. Regretting an action isn’t the same as making a mistake.
    If you went to get an oil change and were told that you won a new car, would you be entitled if they repossessed the car two years later and told you it was actually a mistake and you can have 50% off your next oil change instead? If she had called in and they said that it was an error, then ok. But to come back years later and say “oh no, it doesn’t matter what we said before, you can’t have that so we are taking it back” is wrong.
    I would think that most people would believe that a company can not just steal something back from you or cancel something given to you because they decide to sometime later. What if I buy a “buy one get one” product? Can they come back 3 years later and take back one of them because I “didn’t pay for that one”?
    They printed a card and had a company rep say she had a lifetime benefit. At what point are companies just allowed to do anything and claim a mistake? Why not just come back and say they made a mistake in any terms and conditions writing and not be held to that either?

  5. iamhere Guest

    I think it is good that the reader called Ben out regarding the structure of the courts and law and the type of "court" that this happened in. Often articles here are written without proper research. In my opinion, the airline should honor the card because of two reasons (1) they acknowledged that she somehow won the status (so the argument in the article's conclusion that says she did not pay for it is invalid)...

    I think it is good that the reader called Ben out regarding the structure of the courts and law and the type of "court" that this happened in. Often articles here are written without proper research. In my opinion, the airline should honor the card because of two reasons (1) they acknowledged that she somehow won the status (so the argument in the article's conclusion that says she did not pay for it is invalid) and (2) they sent her the card - the customer should not be responsible for the mistakes of the company. Further, I agree with comments about confidentiality and not agreeing to the settlement. In fact it could be worthy of a competitor to give her some special life status just so people like her would flaunt what the competition did.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      It's the same 'rigged' legally binding framework. Label it how you want, doesn't change each roles.
      See reply under @DenB for details.

      No different that "Judge Judy" or "The People's court", call it what you like. They are all legally binding.

      Heck if they give @iamhere comments here legal powers and your decision is legally binding, you could be the "judge" in your "comments court" too.

  6. G Day Guest

    As a lifetime member I appreciate my lifetime membership which I paid out of my final pay when I retired And this was way back in 1992 and cost more than the yearly fee. A mistake has been made and the fact that Qantas has advised that they no longer offer lifetime membership and offered the member a generous offer, under the circumstances I would have taken that and continue to live happily that the...

    As a lifetime member I appreciate my lifetime membership which I paid out of my final pay when I retired And this was way back in 1992 and cost more than the yearly fee. A mistake has been made and the fact that Qantas has advised that they no longer offer lifetime membership and offered the member a generous offer, under the circumstances I would have taken that and continue to live happily that the mistake was acknowledged.
    Happy flying with our Australian airline which has always supplied excellent service.
    Member 0133075

  7. Auspointer Guest

    The big question here is how many other lifetime memberships did Qantas accidentally issue? This might be just one of many…

    1. platy Guest

      ...in which case going public was a smart move - others affected may step forward...

  8. Michael Hayes Guest

    There is no principle here. She knew something wasn’t quite right with her membership . I’d question if they had even called the airline initially to inquire about lifetime status . She should have taken the 4 years extra and had a good story to tell her friends about how she got over on the airline. Instead she wasted her time and got greedy and got nothing out of the deal . The woman reeks...

    There is no principle here. She knew something wasn’t quite right with her membership . I’d question if they had even called the airline initially to inquire about lifetime status . She should have taken the 4 years extra and had a good story to tell her friends about how she got over on the airline. Instead she wasted her time and got greedy and got nothing out of the deal . The woman reeks of entitlement - imagine thinking you are owed something you never paid for .

  9. AirNiugini Guest

    “Wilson’s husband reportedly called Qantas following this, and was informed that the lifetime membership was the result of a lucky draw.”

    Isn’t that the reason that “your call may be recorded or monitored”?

    Oh and side note Air Asia customer service is abominable.

  10. Qantas Skeptic Guest

    Qantas can get bad press every day of the year and nothing will happen until Australia's population reaches about 40-50 million and a second truly competitive national airline can be sustainable.

    Virgin Australia is doing a decent job against the Qantas monopoly for the time being, but a larger population will be the only way for the market to support a viable competitor.

    For what it's worth, I wish the market dynamics in Australia weren't this way...

  11. glenn t Diamond

    The woman did not actually sue Qantas. Rather than a court matter the VCAT is a low-level tribunal which is empowered to hear a narrow range of grievances and make a ruling. It would have been a low cost gambit for her unless she had legal representation which does not appear to be the case.
    She would have been better off though to simply tell Qantas what she would accept (less than the errant...

    The woman did not actually sue Qantas. Rather than a court matter the VCAT is a low-level tribunal which is empowered to hear a narrow range of grievances and make a ruling. It would have been a low cost gambit for her unless she had legal representation which does not appear to be the case.
    She would have been better off though to simply tell Qantas what she would accept (less than the errant status quo) to settle the matter. They just need to know what would be acceptable.
    Chances are they would agree, without prejudice of course; whatever.

  12. Peter D Guest

    Australians, more American than you'd imagine.

  13. platy Guest

    @ Lucky

    Look, mate, if you're going to publish an article about the Australian legal framework, it might be prudent to spend two or three minutes on the background research to avoid misleading your readers.

    In this instance, you appear to misunderstand VCAT - what it is and it's role.

    The woman hasn't dragged QF into a "court", rather a civil tribunal, wherein individuals can bring cases at very low cost (e.g. USD150), which can...

    @ Lucky

    Look, mate, if you're going to publish an article about the Australian legal framework, it might be prudent to spend two or three minutes on the background research to avoid misleading your readers.

    In this instance, you appear to misunderstand VCAT - what it is and it's role.

    The woman hasn't dragged QF into a "court", rather a civil tribunal, wherein individuals can bring cases at very low cost (e.g. USD150), which can be without any lawyer / legal representation.

    The case wasn't heard by a "judge", rather a member of VCAT - a person deemed appropriate for the task (such as a lawyer) - so, no judge (or as far as I can tell in this case, not even a magistrate).

    The person bringing the case has little to lose (their USD150 fee), if they don't pay for a lawyer to represent them.

    In the event this person self-represented or took no substantial legal advice, then this case cannot be reviewed on certain assumptions about outcomes and process per some of the comments below.

    One suspects a smart legal consul could have proposed a better argued case and secured a better outcome - it would not be unusual for an individual to misunderstand the way legal argument is conducted.

    The person may have decided USD150 and her time (and refusal of 4 years of membership and FF points) worth the freedom to publicise the case.

    IMHO publicising the case may not be that deleterious to QF - people forget easily - people may not side with the customer on this occasion (lifetime lounge membership is unreliable to most and reeks of entitlement) - there are other more concerning issues with QF (and its JQ LCC baby) in the media that are relatable (lost bags, canceled flights, refund issues, etc).

    FWIW I think I'd have taken the offer (given no substantive evidence of winning a prize).

    1. Eskimo Guest

      It's the same 'rigged' legally binding framework. Label it how you want, doesn't change each roles.
      See reply under @DenB for details.

      Unless you consider Australian English, British English, or American English having an entirely different usage.

      Be prudent to spend two or three minutes on the background research to avoid misleading your readers for American English instead of Australian English?

  14. glenn t Diamond

    OK, someone in Qantas made a mistake, although I think it more likely happened at the card production level. When it was sent out by post
    a letter would have accompanied it. Dit it congratulate her on achieving Lifetime status? No, of course not. Surely alarm bells would have rung right away.
    I think Qantas' offer to settle the dispute was reasonable and cost them next to nothing.
    I wonder if she...

    OK, someone in Qantas made a mistake, although I think it more likely happened at the card production level. When it was sent out by post
    a letter would have accompanied it. Dit it congratulate her on achieving Lifetime status? No, of course not. Surely alarm bells would have rung right away.
    I think Qantas' offer to settle the dispute was reasonable and cost them next to nothing.
    I wonder if she was really told by the call centre that she'd won some promotion for a Lifetime card. Athough they lie regularly and give false promises and assurances, I can't imagine them being that inventive, unless it was their last day in the job and decided to go rogue just for the hell of it!
    Going to VCAT was a ill-advised move; can't recall when they ever let down Qantas. "Take the money and run" would have been my advice!

  15. Dez Guest

    My father bought a lifetime Qantas Club membership in 1997 and then promptly reduced frequency of travel. And even when he does travel internationally it's in business class, though not necessarily with QF depending on fares. Lounge staff comment that they very rarely see lifetime cards, not only because they were issued so long ago but also because the cardholders tend to be retired and not travelling as frequently. I agree this was a windfall,...

    My father bought a lifetime Qantas Club membership in 1997 and then promptly reduced frequency of travel. And even when he does travel internationally it's in business class, though not necessarily with QF depending on fares. Lounge staff comment that they very rarely see lifetime cards, not only because they were issued so long ago but also because the cardholders tend to be retired and not travelling as frequently. I agree this was a windfall, the pax should have been overjoyed she got extra lounge access beyond the normal validity, good on her for holding out for a better offer, I hope she values 'the principle' more than the offer she turned down.

  16. Earl Lee Guest

    She is an idiot. She should have taken their offer of the free couple of years. She didn't pay for it and didn't even remember entering any contest. The case turned out the way it should have. Fair.

  17. Morgan Diamond

    Court decision was correct, the woman got three years out of it anyway don't know why she is complaining so much.

  18. Kelley Guest

    I think asking her to send a picture of the cut up card was rubbing salt in the wound....

    1. glenn t Diamond

      They knew she could use it again when the dust settled. One setback wouldn't have been the end of it.
      Sometimes best to let sleeping dogs lie.

    2. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      I think not. Samsonite will replace my $600 luggage for free, even pay for shipping. But they want a photo of me cutting the logo off of the old bag (as to "prove" I won't use a shoddy and torn up bag while traveling). Completely fair ask IMHO.

  19. AJ Guest

    Australians that continue to choose to fly Qantas are either brain dead or sadomasochists.

    Plenty of better options than this trash airline with old aircraft, crap service and that sacked thousands of workers illegally.

    1. RichM Gold

      For domestic Australian flights, there aren't "plenty" of options - there are essentially two airlines.

  20. Donna Diamond

    Good riddance, I’m sure Qantas Airlines will survive without her. Court decision was correct.

    1. platy Guest

      FWIW the person didn't take QF to "court" - she went to low cost arbitration service (civil tribunal) with the matter likely resolved with lawyers by an appointed "member" of the tribunal service (likely simply a lawyer - not a judge or magistrate).

      To note that QF did issue her with the lifetime lounge card and accepted its usage for several years...;)

  21. Aussie Guest

    What an absolute pig of a woman. She was never entitled to the lifetime pass to begin with. Court decision is correct.

    1. frnklw Guest

      Agreed. She got something for nothing and now wants more of that something or she threatens court. A decision-maker must have felt that "enough is enough" and decided to stand on principle, because she had no principles. All of her and her husband's alleged discussions were clearly hearsay and probably never made it before the court.

    2. platy Guest

      No. She didn't go to court. She went to a civil tribunal.

      And no, the decision maker doesn't make a ruling based on "principle" rather legal argument targeting a fair settlement of the dispute, likely without recourse to lawyers.

      Indisputable evidence would be the physical card itself and the tenure of its acceptance.

      Much personal (and misinformed) perception in many comments herein....

      The claim by QF that the issuance of the card was not...

      No. She didn't go to court. She went to a civil tribunal.

      And no, the decision maker doesn't make a ruling based on "principle" rather legal argument targeting a fair settlement of the dispute, likely without recourse to lawyers.

      Indisputable evidence would be the physical card itself and the tenure of its acceptance.

      Much personal (and misinformed) perception in many comments herein....

      The claim by QF that the issuance of the card was not intended could also be hard to back by evidence.

  22. mf Guest

    something similar happened to me recently - I reached a top-level milestone for annual status with a well-known hotel chain (cough, cough, one that rhymes with convoy) and the welcome digital card said "I'll always hold XXXX elite status or higher and my points will never expire"

    my expectations for anything are sort of low - but it would be interesting to see what the response would be if I asked what they mean by "always".....

    1. Eskimo Guest

      And don't forget to select your 'convoy' choice benefits that expire tonight, 11:59 p.m. ET on January 7, 2023.

      I'm actually surprised that a post pumping site like OMAAT isn't having a "last chance" reminder post to increase daily post count.

  23. Brian L. Guest

    "especially if you want to keep a disgruntled customer."

    If she's going to sue them over something like this, she's probably not worth keeping as a customer.

  24. Adobo Guest

    In another perspective, QA lost another customer. So, who really won?

    1. Pete Guest

      A low-value customer whom they’ll not miss in the slightest.

      If you have a purchased lounge membership, you’re not a very frequent flyer.

  25. John Guest

    I'm going to take a controversial opinion here and say she shouldn't have accepted the settlement. Yes she'd have a free membership for a few years and some frequent flyer miles but she'd lose the opportunity to bash them in the press, which she seems to be quite enjoying. A free membership over a few years and some miles isn't really worth very much. I think the ability to speak her mind about the incident...

    I'm going to take a controversial opinion here and say she shouldn't have accepted the settlement. Yes she'd have a free membership for a few years and some frequent flyer miles but she'd lose the opportunity to bash them in the press, which she seems to be quite enjoying. A free membership over a few years and some miles isn't really worth very much. I think the ability to speak her mind about the incident is worth more to her. Sometimes people bring litigation not because they actually expect to win but to bring attention to what they perceive to be an injustice. As OMAAT's coverage illustrates, she has been quite successful in making lots of people aware of what happened to her!

    Probably the damage to Qantas's brand isn't going to be that deep or long-lasting -- but with all the people who see this story, if even just a few book away from Qantas for like their next trip it'll probably cost Qantas more than what they were fighting over. (I think people have short memories and after a few months no one will remember this -- but I could imagine some percentage of readers of this story are Australians who are booking something in the next few weeks. One could imagine a story like this pushing people to choose a different carrier in cases where they have a choice.) I don't think Qantas should have folded either -- but in some sense they were standing on principle as well.

  26. Eskimo Guest

    This case is even weaker than Pepsi's Harrier jet.
    But just like that case, Qantas accepting the card for years without correction on a clearly spelled LIFETIME, a company representative admit to the validity, and asking in exchange for a confidentiality agreement.

    It all points to they are aware but deny admission of guilt.

    Consumer protection laws are there to trick people into thinking they have protection. In reality big corporation with litigation money...

    This case is even weaker than Pepsi's Harrier jet.
    But just like that case, Qantas accepting the card for years without correction on a clearly spelled LIFETIME, a company representative admit to the validity, and asking in exchange for a confidentiality agreement.

    It all points to they are aware but deny admission of guilt.

    Consumer protection laws are there to trick people into thinking they have protection. In reality big corporation with litigation money always wins.
    Not true? Why do we still never show all in pricing, especially for hotels? Why resort fees? Why no EU261 equivalent globally or still being denied EU261.

    What if I 'accidentally' book a dummy nonrefundable fare on QF under the name SANTA CLAUS.
    Does "The mistake vitiates any intention" and I get a full refund?

    However, I don't find this being overly litigious nor it's on the level of the United States.
    In USA, "Wilson describes the situation as embarrassing, and says she was upset and distressed." would result in a lifelong trauma. The pain and suffering would be amount to $50,000,000. Includes cost of treatment and alternative travel costs. As she wouldn't be able to be within 100 feet of anything Qantas or it will trigger her trauma.
    That is USA.

  27. monsieurlee Member

    Everyone sucks here.

    Qantas goofed. She asked for two extra years initially. That would cost them peanuts. That would've been the end of it. Now you won the court case but you get a media black eye for the bad press. Pyrrhic victory

    As for the woman, You got 3 years of free lounge access out of it. In court they came back with 4 more. But no, you had to go “in so deep...

    Everyone sucks here.

    Qantas goofed. She asked for two extra years initially. That would cost them peanuts. That would've been the end of it. Now you won the court case but you get a media black eye for the bad press. Pyrrhic victory

    As for the woman, You got 3 years of free lounge access out of it. In court they came back with 4 more. But no, you had to go “in so deep that it was double or nothing,”. Now you lost and you claim to never fly Qantas again. Yeah, good luck with that. If you actually follow through, Qantas is happy to rid of themselves an entitled customer, and as the flag carrier, not flying them you are just inconvenience yourself.

    Whoever in Qantas customer service that told her "that the lifetime membership was the result of a lucky draw" is the real idiot, though. That one thing made the customer feel entitled to her windfall.

  28. Sonofdad New Member

    B.S. that she won’t fly Quantas ever again. And to top it off, like the CEO would care.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Maybe "Qantas" does have a case here, if people can misspell even there are at least 40+ correct spelling shown, may "LIFETIME" was really a typo for "2021".

  29. frrp Gold

    Quantas only ever gets bad press and no one globally is gonna care about this.

    That they didnt just give her the 2 years from the start is the absurd bit, but then losing the case also seems to be nonsense considering it had been valid for years.

    1. NathanJ Gold

      It is spelled QANTAS.

  30. Santastico Diamond

    Qantas missed an opportunity to make a win here. They could have simply decided to extend her lifetime membership. It is basically sunk cost for them and they would have a happy customer. They wasted more in legal fees than the value of the membership. Stupid corporate bureaucracy. Made the mistake. Honor it.

    1. ORDnHKG Guest

      Actually not really, a lifetime membership cost more than legal fees, that's why most airline clubs had completely stopped selling lifetime membership years ago. Not to mention, it didn't mention she has any status with QF, and QF is really a monopy in Australia, so QF can care less they are losing one infrequent flyer that wouldn't generate much money from her anyways

    2. Santastico Guest

      Seriously? It is sunk cost for Qantas. What is the cost of one person having access to their lounges? How much will this person consume in food and beverage and use soap at the bathroom that is costing Qantas more than lawyers? I have access to Delta lounges. 90% of the time I go there to sit and fill my bottle of water. What is the cost of that?

  31. Kair New Member

    I wonder how this could happen to just one person (if it was an IT glitch). Maybe there is a lifetime member of the same name too?
    I think Qantas should have just accepted the original counter of free 2 year membership... not because plaitiff deserves it would have cost them the least. Seems like it would have been a reasonable middle ground that both parties can easily agree on.

  32. Zebraitis Guest

    Here is the thing: Qantas validated the legitimacy of the card by accepting it for three years.
    Every entry to a club should have been documented and presented as proof that the card is valid.
    The overall cost for that one card is negligible... the bad press globally far exceeds revenue lost for that one card.
    Quantas won less than nothing.

    1. RichM Gold

      Americans may not realise that Qantas-bashing in the press is pretty much a national sport here in Australia - this incident is very minor in the scheme of things.

      And it's the domestic market (and frequent flyer programme) where Qantas makes all its profit, so coverage outside Australia is largely irrelevant.

  33. DenB Diamond

    Qantas' final offer before court was a good one. But in the age of righteous doubling down ("it's the principle") all is lost. If she had competent counsel, my bet is she didn't follow her/his advice.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      It's not about competent counsel.

      Some people actually isn't in it for the money or damages, they are because "it's the principle".

      People like them are the real hero standing up against corporate greed and a broken litigation system favoring donors of majority elected.

      For people who earns minimum wage, sure they are better off taking the settlement.

    2. DenB Diamond

      Your argument is valid, but less persuasive than the judge's decision: the issuance of the "lifetime" card was an error. The competing "principle" here is that error should be punished proportionately/reasonably.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Well, again who is the judge?
      Who determines it's an error?
      Who decides proportionately/reasonably?
      Who even wrote the laws?

      A broken litigation system favoring donors of majority elected?

      I'm not even trying to persuade the judge. I'm trying to remind the public.
      People needs to be reminded sometimes that the legal system isn't fair. It's rigged.
      You just have to play to your strengths under their rules.

    4. platy Guest

      @ DenB

      You (and others) herein apparently totally ignorant about VCAT. It is not a "court", the rulings are not made by a "judge", although it is a legal forum.

      It's a dispute resolution service (Civil and Administrative Tribunal). The outcomes are decided by "Members" or "Senior Members", such as appointed lawyers or other specialists.

      The cost of bringing a "case" is low under the principle of affordable and fair justice - in this case...

      @ DenB

      You (and others) herein apparently totally ignorant about VCAT. It is not a "court", the rulings are not made by a "judge", although it is a legal forum.

      It's a dispute resolution service (Civil and Administrative Tribunal). The outcomes are decided by "Members" or "Senior Members", such as appointed lawyers or other specialists.

      The cost of bringing a "case" is low under the principle of affordable and fair justice - in this case probably USD150 based on the listed table of fees.

      The individual may typically represent themselves - if they want to be represented by a legal professional they need to ask permission of VCAT, and the opposing side will be notified.

      This and more readily available on the VCAT (Victorian Government) website.

    5. Eskimo Guest

      @platy

      You don't get it either. VCAT is just one of made up label.

      "Well, again who is the judge?
      Who determines it's an error?
      Who decides proportionately/reasonably?
      Who even wrote the laws?

      A broken litigation system favoring donors of majority elected?"

      You can label it how ever you want. It's a broken system with labels and neither of us put it there.
      You just have to play to your strengths...

      @platy

      You don't get it either. VCAT is just one of made up label.

      "Well, again who is the judge?
      Who determines it's an error?
      Who decides proportionately/reasonably?
      Who even wrote the laws?

      A broken litigation system favoring donors of majority elected?"

      You can label it how ever you want. It's a broken system with labels and neither of us put it there.
      You just have to play to your strengths under their rules.

      You have 2 or more disputing parties, a place to go settle, and a person/institution that decides.
      You can have Catriona vs Qantas, Heaven and St. Peter. (If Catriona was Christian and prayed to God)
      or
      You can have Catriona vs Qantas, OMAAT, and Ben Schlappig. (If the claim was filed in the comments, LOL)

      And we still have the same news and topic. Just a different rigged label.

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platy Guest

@ Lucky Look, mate, if you're going to publish an article about the Australian legal framework, it might be prudent to spend two or three minutes on the background research to avoid misleading your readers. In this instance, you appear to misunderstand VCAT - what it is and it's role. The woman hasn't dragged QF into a "court", rather a civil tribunal, wherein individuals can bring cases at very low cost (e.g. USD150), which can be without any lawyer / legal representation. The case wasn't heard by a "judge", rather a member of VCAT - a person deemed appropriate for the task (such as a lawyer) - so, no judge (or as far as I can tell in this case, not even a magistrate). The person bringing the case has little to lose (their USD150 fee), if they don't pay for a lawyer to represent them. In the event this person self-represented or took no substantial legal advice, then this case cannot be reviewed on certain assumptions about outcomes and process per some of the comments below. One suspects a smart legal consul could have proposed a better argued case and secured a better outcome - it would not be unusual for an individual to misunderstand the way legal argument is conducted. The person may have decided USD150 and her time (and refusal of 4 years of membership and FF points) worth the freedom to publicise the case. IMHO publicising the case may not be that deleterious to QF - people forget easily - people may not side with the customer on this occasion (lifetime lounge membership is unreliable to most and reeks of entitlement) - there are other more concerning issues with QF (and its JQ LCC baby) in the media that are relatable (lost bags, canceled flights, refund issues, etc). FWIW I think I'd have taken the offer (given no substantive evidence of winning a prize).

6
John Guest

I'm going to take a controversial opinion here and say she shouldn't have accepted the settlement. Yes she'd have a free membership for a few years and some frequent flyer miles but she'd lose the opportunity to bash them in the press, which she seems to be quite enjoying. A free membership over a few years and some miles isn't really worth very much. I think the ability to speak her mind about the incident is worth more to her. Sometimes people bring litigation not because they actually expect to win but to bring attention to what they perceive to be an injustice. As OMAAT's coverage illustrates, she has been quite successful in making lots of people aware of what happened to her! Probably the damage to Qantas's brand isn't going to be that deep or long-lasting -- but with all the people who see this story, if even just a few book away from Qantas for like their next trip it'll probably cost Qantas more than what they were fighting over. (I think people have short memories and after a few months no one will remember this -- but I could imagine some percentage of readers of this story are Australians who are booking something in the next few weeks. One could imagine a story like this pushing people to choose a different carrier in cases where they have a choice.) I don't think Qantas should have folded either -- but in some sense they were standing on principle as well.

5
Qantas Skeptic Guest

Qantas can get bad press every day of the year and nothing will happen until Australia's population reaches about 40-50 million and a second truly competitive national airline can be sustainable. Virgin Australia is doing a decent job against the Qantas monopoly for the time being, but a larger population will be the only way for the market to support a viable competitor. For what it's worth, I wish the market dynamics in Australia weren't this way...

3
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
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