Schoolies to Refund Deposit

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What is Schoolies?

“Schoolies Week is a three-week graduation festival celebrated by Year 12 school leavers from every corner of Australia. Schoolies week celebrations usually take place during the first 3 weeks following graduation starting in Mid-November.” [1]

What does Schoolies do?

“Schoolies.com offers a range of destinations and a choice of 3 'weeks' to suit those looking to mark the end of year 12 by partying hard as well as those looking for a quieter more relaxing celebration.” [2]

Schoolies in 2020

Schoolies is meant to be a place where Year 12 students can together to finally celebrate their schooling journey and have a fun time. Specifically, in Queensland the graduating cohort of 2020 has been faced with many adversities by being the first mandatory cohort to have Year 7 in high school along with adapting to the new Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) system present throughout Australia. Now, at the end of our journey we are faced with yet another setback… COVID-19. This pandemic has caused major disruption to many students with significant alterations in schooling by utilising digital forms to conduct school at home as well alterations to formal and graduation ceremonies. All these reasons have built up a bigger hype around Schoolies with it becoming a more symbolic goal for the cohort representing all the things we’ve been put through.

However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 and consequentially restrictions “The Chief Health Officer has designated mass gatherings over several days of Schoolies a high-risk event. That means organised events like concerts won’t proceed.” “Gatherings in residences, including holiday units, will be limited to no more than 10 people state-wide from November 21 to December 11.” [3] Evidently, all Schoolies related parties and events have been cancelled as well as the amount of people in a hotel room being limited to 10. So, the question is asked, how can we “mark the end of year 12 by partying hard” with the cancellation of these events and many hotels outlining a zero tolerance of parties? Majority of the cohort have booked through Schoolies as it’s the “only way to get into Schoolies.com parties” [4] when instead cheaper accommodation or alternate destinations could have been chosen. Schoolies has been advertised as “your one and ONLY chance to party with your entire cohort” [5] which now can’t be done due to the restrictions and alterations of the Gold Coast event.

Outlined in the Schoolies.com FAQs they outline that at this stage for Queenslanders only a “Credit Voucher for the non-refundable deposit.” [6] Will be provided. This Credit Voucher can be used at
Green Light Australia” (an event taking place in December of 2021) or sold to others so “they can book Schoolies 2021, 2022 or 2023 or “Green Light Australia”. [7] Only “if 30 days prior to your original travel date Government restrictions are going to prevent you from checking-in to your schoolies.com accommodation, Credit Voucher holders will have the option to choose to exchange their Credit Voucher for a full refund of their deposit.” [8] This is highly unjustified and unfair to those students who saved up for this event and will now lose $150 as the restrictions will still allow them to check into their accommodation but won’t be able to attend parties. How can Schoolies be promoted as the “one opportunity to kick back, hang out, make new friends and party your worries away” [9]  when ¾ of those selling points can’t be done now, yet Schoolies is technically still going ahead.

From May 25 [10] to now a “limited time” (yet is still going) promotion was launched that allowed school leavers to book a Schoolies room for $0, totally evading the $150 non-refundable deposit that was required by everyone prior. This is totally unethical for Schoolies to allow as the prior to May 25 school leavers were being asked “Have you booked Schoolies 2020? Some of our most popular locations are already selling out!” [11] creating urgency in booking a room. Furthermore, they stated on February 18th of 2019 in regard to 2020 Schoolies that “Some of our best hotels are selling out in just a few days.” [12] Under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, Australian Consumer Law is outlined which states a product must “match descriptions made by the salesperson, on packaging and labels, and in promotions or advertising.” [13] With no parties / events how have their description of Schoolies been met? Last time I checked I would be partying with my cohort and I would have access to “Schoolies Nation Beach Festival, Pool Parties, 18+ Nightclub Events, All Ages Parties” [14]

Consequently, the refusal of a refund for the initial deposit is totally unethical and unmoral for Schoolies to do as they have not met the promised standards and expectations that have been set for the annual providers. Why should the early bird be punished for getting in quick and booking a spot fort $150 while people months later are able to book for nothing, meaning they don’t lose their deposit. By offering a refund school leavers will be able to create more individualised holidays across Queensland supporting the local economy instead of the one location of Gold Coast which already will make revenue in 2021 and 2022 due to Schoolies already being able to be booked.

By Joel Burgess, A Member of the Year 12 Cohort

REFERENCES
[1] [2] https://www.schoolies.com/what-is-schoolies
[3] https://www.facebook.com/annastaciamp/photos/a.523591701005345/3460159990681820
[4] https://www.instagram.com/p/B-01CJIAqvk/
[5] https://www.instagram.com/p/B98WQSRIhpm/
[6][7][8] https://www.schoolies.com/covid-19-faq
[9] https://www.instagram.com/p/B8arowcjwOh/
[10] https://www.facebook.com/SchooliesWeek/photos/a.398038976384/10158519627886385/
[11] https://www.instagram.com/p/B7pyCrnAy7O/
[12] https://www.instagram.com/p/BuA5NrujSbd/
[13] https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees
[14] https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt0BProgoKy/