March 19 2021

By Graeme Kemlo

You need a getaway so you book a few days away in Victoria’s high country with autumn colours ablaze. Doing the right thing by your State to help boost the local economy. Also wary of being caught in another fast COVID lockdown you’re staying close enough to drive home if necessary.

So all’s well until your short break in Harrietville is confirmed by email. It looks different because over the top of your confirmation is a document in the same font and style that confirms your stay at a different property in Bright, about 20 km away. Same dates, same two bedroom, two bathroom request. It even includes the phone number and address.

Is this a scam? A Google-placed ad? You rationalise that you had inquired about staying in Bright and maybe that happened within earshot of your ever-present webcam. Or they read your email; it had happened before that your Google query about compost bins had been fed back to you in a sudden offer from an online vendor.

So, uneasy about where, or if, you have a booking, you ring the property to whom you’ve paid a deposit and they tell you “this happens all the time”. This is not a related property and they have tried to complain about it coming over the top of their client emails but they don’t know who is responsible. They say its appearance within an email “looks deceptive”.

Names have been obscured to protect the innocent, but this did happen to my family this week and it could happen to anyone…might be one for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.