Online documentation firm ePost Solutions has defended itself against accusations of taking advantage of the Thomas Cook collapse, after charging for access to documents.
In the immediate wake of Thomas Cook’s failure, ePost Solutions was charging £12 to access documents relating to Thomas Cook bookings.
The rate was quickly increased to £50 + VAT, meaning agents had to pay a total of £60 for a month’s access.
Jill Waite, director of Pole Travel in Failsworth, Manchester, said she emailed the software firm after trying to access invoices and Atol certificates.
She told the company: “I am disgusted that at this very trying time. When the whole industry is pulling together, you are making money out of other people’s misfortune.”
Waite has contacted other suppliers to say she does not want to access documents via ePost Solutions, adding: “The industry should stand up to them.”
Other agents have taken to social media to criticise the charges.
Helen Owen, branch manager at Morgan Travel in Caerphilly, said the charges were “unbelievable” and “disgusting”.
She posted: “The whole industry is pulling together to help each other out in sad & tough times and the company is milking an awful situation making money off the back of it.”
A statement from ePost said: “We have had to turn off Thomas Cook’s servers and processors due to excessive costs and unpaid fees.
“We were under no contractual obligation to provide the additional service for agents to access Thomas Cook’s documents. However, we managed to devise a procedure to do that expeditiously within 24 hours.
“This new procedure, in the absence of the servers, is not fully automatic and requires human resources to revive documents for individual members and the costs reflect exactly that.
“We understand the frustration and sympathise with agents, but we hope they appreciate that ePost is also a substantial victim of this saga and we are trying to help as much as we can, while running a business.”
The company said the original fee of £12 (£10 plus VAT) had been due to tests on the portal – and said it offered 20% reductions when groups of 10 or more agents apply together.
“We had to test our portal for payment authentication on our live system. We started testing in the evening and set the amount to £10 plus VAT, so that we could examine all combination of possible issues by sending multiple payments through for about two hours,” said a statement from ePost.
“Three agents happened to visit the portal during our tests and paid the £10 plus VAT. We decided to honour the transactions, since they were not aware that it was for testing purposes.”
Groups of more than 10 agents applying together can apply for a 20% reduction via the ePost website.