A Whangārei travel agent has pleaded for customers to be kind and patient when requesting refunds.
Lynne Bennett, owner manager of Helloworld Travel on Rathbone St, said that people need to be more understanding of the difficult position that travel agents are in, with Covid-19 halting travel worldwide and customers demanding refunds for cancellations.
"Be patient, be kind", she said. "It starts to get you down when all you're doing is giving money back to people who are abusing you."
Travel agents have been kept busy with processing refunds for clients, which also means refunding the travel agent's commission to the supplier.
"I don't think people understand that as soon as the money comes in, we are passing it on," said Bennett.
"We would probably be the only industry that's giving money back and not making any money."
She said that over the last few months, Helloworld Travel has been flooded with people demanding to have their money back.
"We were inundated with calls from people wanting information that it wasn't really possible to give them. We even had phone calls in the middle of the night."
"We are working for love, minus [the] love," said Bennett.
Although many people are aware of the precarious state of the travel industry, their patience runs out when it personally affects them.
And after the Covid hit Bennett received a double whammy when Helloworld Travel had 150mm of water in its business premises, cutting off computer and telephone links during the weekend's storms.
Bennett said it was ironic only some businesses on Rathbone St bore the brunt of the stormy weather.
"It's a double whammy. We are really busy but are refunding money to customers so we're really going backwards," she said.
Andrew Olsen, chief executive of the Travel Agents' Association of New Zealand, said that in this unprecedented situation, customers need to have trust in their travel agents.
"There's no handbook. Everyone understands there's a problem with travel, but when it happens to you, when it's your problem - all people have to do is trust in the relationship.
Olsen said that travel agents are being hounded by unhappy clients all over the world.
"Suppliers aren't returning money the way that customers would expect. Customers presume agents have it."
The frustration level builds on both sides," Olsen said. "It's the most difficult time that you'll ever come across."
Although there has been a reprieve of both franchising and association fees for Lynne Bennett's business, she finds it hard to be optimistic about the future.
"Any money we earn we are giving back, so we are actually earning minus. You have no idea how long you have to survive for."