Qantas destroyed my guitar. What are my compensation rights?

I flew from Japan to Australia on Qantas and brought back a guitar in oversize baggage. The guitar was in a padded bag, wrapped in bubble wrap and clothes, with a FRAGILE bag tag and Qantas still managed to snap the neck away from the body.

Qantas have offered to refund the purchase price of the guitar. This would be fine if I was still a tourist in Japan and did not have to pay 10% consumption tax or freight the instrument back to Australia. I believe I should be compensated to replace the guitar - i.e. purchase price + consumption tax + shipping.

Your thoughts - who is right and who is wrong?

Hi @bevan

So sorry to hear about your guitar. How frustrating!!

You’re really asking for legal advice and my guess is that your question is beyond the scope of most/all of the people who frequent this forum to answer knowledgeably (though I may be wrong).

Possibly a good first step would be the Airline Customer Advocate?

I have already raised a case with ACA and asked them this exact question. The ACA say themselves “we are not a government body or lawyers, so cannot answer that question.”

The case was escalated to Qantas but all they did was re-iterate their offer to refund the purchase price. So the merry go round continues.

Hi Bevan

One way may be to ask Qantas to pay the replacement amount to get the guitar in Australia. Airlines use the purchase price as a measure of the value of an item (less depreciation) but an argument can be made for a replacement rather than a refund of the original cost.

The reason I say this is that you want the guitar in Australia (I presume you are living here?). If you are living in Japan, then have them replace the guitar in Japan. That way you are restored to whatever the position you are supposed to be, had not that event occurred. If you purchased the guitar in Japan, the the purchase price would have included the 10% consumption tax.

The fact that you paid the consumption tax in Japan and paid the freight cost to get the item to Australia are peripheral in that you would have incurred those whether the item is destroyed or not.

Qantas is willing to restore you to your position as if nothing untoward has happened. I believe (but do confirm this as I am no expert), this is the stance if you were able to make a claim under an insurance policy.

You may be able to ask Qantas for a further compensatory amount for the inconvenience etc but note that it would be an ex-gratia payment.

As an aside, if you charged the flight cost to your credit card, you may have a claim under the credit card’s insurance policy (if you have such cover). Note that there are strict time limits to lodge such a claim.

Let us know how you get along.

Hi @Perpetuallytraveling

I have asked Qantas three times to fund the replacement cost and their response each time is that they are only obliged to refund the purchase price.

As a tourist in Japan I did not pay consumption tax and I did not pay freight to bring the guitar to Australia because I brought it back on my flight via oversized baggage. Now that I am back in Australia, if I tried to buy the instrument from here I would pay tax and shipping. Note that in Australia this guitar is extremely rare and is difficult to buy from local sources.

Travel insurance won’t pay out beyond the purchase price because the policy specifically limits the payout to expenses “incurred by me”.

This is not about insurance - it’s compensation. In my opinion, restoring to the “point where nothing untoward had happened” is the moment before I put a guitar in working order into checked baggage. Refunding my purchase price makes me worse off because I don’t have a guitar.

I have asked the ACA to reopen the case with Qantas and request a review of their decision. A week later I am still waiting. I fully expect this process to take another 10 working days.

Stay tuned….!

Good news! Qantas agreed to pay the replacement cost of my guitar.