Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Eztravel assures public its tickets are OK for holiday

`MISUNDERSTANDING' Eztravel.com says that the 1,000 train tickets already reserved for the Lunar New Year will still be honored, despite business problems

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eztravel.com (易遊網), the nation's largest online travel agency, yesterday assured its members who have purchased domestic train tickets for next month's Lunar New Year holidays that their travel plans will not be affected, despite a dispute aroused by its business partner.

"Passengers' rights and interests are well-protected by the contract and they don't have to worry about their seats being taken away," said Yen Tsung-fu (顏聰富), vice president of Eztravel.com, during a telephone interview yesterday.

His comments were made in response to an abrupt decision that was announced yesterday by ezrail.com.tw (環鐵聯營中心) -- an alliance composed of the nation's 33 travel agencies to sell sightseeing railway tour packages around Taiwan.

Ezrail.com decided that it will suspend Eztravel.com's membership starting next month.

Ezrail.com cited the travel agency's serious financial crisis. as the reason for the decision.

This means the alliance will retrieve the train seats Eztravel.com has sold for next month once its membership is nullified, according to the alliance's chief executive officer Tian Chih-cheng (田治成).

Tian said that Eztravel.com secures around one-third of the total train seats nationwide.

But it owes the alliance more than NT$12 million (US$400,000) in deposits and penalties for breaching the contract, nearly costing the alliance's business relations with the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).

Eztravel.com flatly refuted Tian's accusation.

The firm has followed the contract signed with the alliance in late November with all payments made, Yen said.

Also, Yen claimed that in accordance with the contract, which will not expire until the end of the year, the alliance itself risks breaking the contract by suspending the travel agency's membership.

"To protect consumers' interests, we will ask for the court's enforcement to demand that the alliance carry out the contract," Yen said.

With Lunar New Year holidays just around the corner, Eztravel.com has sold more than 90 percent of its train tickets between Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, with nearly 1,000 people falling victim to the two parties' disputes.

Yen assured these consumers that the company will negotiate with the TRA to guarantee availability of these seats. If passengers have any doubt, the company will offer full refunds.

Alleging that Tian's accusations have tarnished the company's reputation, Eztravel.com is slated to file slander lawsuits against him today, according to Yen.

Tian's stance does not appear to be supported by his own group, as the alliance issued a clarification statement yesterday, saying Eztravel.com did not owe NT$12 million and has abided by the contract.

The alliance's honorary CEO Stephen Wu (吳西謙), who is also president of Zion Tours (錫安旅遊), downplayed the dispute as being "merely misunderstandings."

"Of course we will continue to cooperate with Eztravel.com and we will also try to avoid suspending its membership," Wu said.

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