Consumer Complaints for Tourist Accommodation Consumer Complaints

Consumer Complaints

The Accommodation Association of Australia is an industry representative body and as such we are not in a position to address consumer complaints. The Accommodation Association is not a regulatory body and has no role in admonishing property operators or individuals for issues of standards, fair trading or incidents which occur on the premises during your stay.

If you've had a bad experience during your stay and would like to make a complaint the first point of contact should be the hotel management and/or the management group if the accommodation is part of a chain. There are also a number of organisations which may be able to assist you in taking your complaint further, depending upon the nature of your complaint. You can find contact details for these below based on the nature of you complaint.

Some things to be aware of:


Your Booking

When you accommodation, you enter into a contract. Contracts can be in writing or made orally and can be entered into in a variety of ways, including:

  • signing a document
  • verbally over the phone
  • clicking an ‘I agree’ button on a web page.

Online bookings - Online Travel Agents (OTA's)
If you book using an online booking agent or website, they will have their own terms and conditions in relation to deposits, booking fees and cancellations. Sometimes these terms and conditions may conflict with or supplement the terms and conditions applied by the accommodation provider, so it is important to review all relevant terms and conditions of both the online booking provider and the accommodation provider.

You should also be aware that:

  • OTA's will naturally and fairly apply a commission or fee for services.  In some cases these are applied to both you as the consumer and the accommodation provider.
  • You may be able to save on accommodation by booking directly with the accommodation provider.
  • As most OTA's (and many other related sites) are located outside Australia, the representation of Star Rating vs self rating is difficult to enforce and as such may not be accurate.  To be sure your are booking the standard of accommodation you are seeking you may wish to refer to the official star ratings website. more information on Star Ratings is below.

Star Ratings

The Australian STAR Rating Scheme is managed by Star Ratings Australia (a division of Australian Motoring Services), on behalf of Australia’s Auto Clubs and assesses six accommodation categories, including hotels and motels, serviced apartments and self-catering properties, hosted accommodation (B&Bs) and caravan/holiday parks.

The Star Rating scheme is an accreditation scheme available to all compliant tourist accommodation in Australia.  There scheme has been reviewed numerous times over many decades and completed the most recent review process recently.  There is no international scheme.

STAR Rated properties are continually assessed by Official STAR Rating Assessors against more than 200 criteria from three key areas:

1. Facilities & Services
2. Cleanliness
3. Quality & Condition

STAR Rating criteria are ranked according to their importance to the consumer.

STARS represent levels of quality, rather than superiority. That means if a property has just one or two stars, it can still be a great place to stay if you are looking for a property with that level of quality.

Star Rated and self rated are very different things.  Self rated accommodation apply a measure generally on the same scale (out of 5) as Stars based on the perception of the owner or manager of the property in their own assessment.  Generally self rated properties will show a "" as opposed to the official five pointed star for star rated properties.  Regardless you may find some properties misrepresenting themselves and may wish to refer to the official star ratings website.

Deposits and cancellations

Accommodation providers may apply requirements on travellers for the provision of deposits to secure bookings.  These are often the equivalent of 1 nights accommodation but may be up to the full value of the accommodation in seasonal locations particularly.

Similarly, requirements may be placed on the cancellation of bookings and be based on period of notice as well as number of nights.  Essentially the more notice you provide the more likely it will be that you will recover the booking deposit if applied.


Many operators will require full payment of your accommodation on arrival.  This will be at the discretion of the property and or manager.

Security Deposits

Many operators will require a security deposit for your accommodation on arrival.  This will be at the discretion of the property and or manager.

Photo ID

Some operators will require photo ID on arrival.  This may be required for several reasons including the requirements of OTA's, fraud minimization and of course security.  This will be at the discretion of the property and or manager and will need to comply with privacy legislation.

Terms and Conditions

Most accommodation providers will have terms and conditions in place to ensure a well run and professional service.  These are designed to protect your rights as a guest and the rights of the accommodation providers as well.  As with any service, you should read the terms and conditions as apply to your booking and stay.

Loss or Damage relating to personal items

It is never a pleasant experience to misplace personal valuables, have them stolen or damaged let alone when travelling.

Travellers should be aware that:

  • Most states and territories in Australia place a limitation on the liability of accommodation providers. You should make yourself aware of those limitations.
  • Lost items are not covered - loss does not mean lost.

If you wish to lodge a complaint, you will need to consider the nature of the complaint as direct it appropriately for:

Health and Safety Issues

If your complaint relates to the condition of your accommodation in terms of cleanliness or health and safety you can contact the Department of Health for the relevant state.

Department of Health WA
Tel: (08) 9222 4222
PO Box 8172
Perth Business Centre
WA 6849

Department of Health QLD
Tel: (07) 3234 0111
GPO Box 48
Queensland 4001

Department of Health SA
Tel: (08) 8226 6000
PO Box 287
Rundle Mall
SA 5000

Department of Health and Human Services TAS
Tel: 1300 135 513
GPO Box 125
TAS 7001


Department of Health NSW
Tel: (02) 9391 9000
Locked Mail Bag 961
North Sydney
NSW 2059

Department of Health and Families
Tel: (08) 8999 2400
PO Box 40596
NT 0811


Department of Health VIC
Tel: 1300 650 172 or (03) 9096 0000
Department of Health
50 Lonsdale Street
Victoria 3000

Department of Health ACT
Tel: 13 22 81
ACT Health
GPO Box 825
Canberra City
ACT 2601




STAR Rated Properties

If your complaint relates to facilities at the property and standard of the accommodation you can contact STAR Ratings Australia if the property is STAR rated.

STAR Ratings Australia

For all STAR Rating enquiries:
Phone: +61 3 9601 3325
Fax: +61 3 9601 3300


Deposits and Cancellation Fees

If your complaint relates to the room rate, deposit, cancellation fees or another aspects of your consumer rights you can contact the fair trading or consumer affairs organisation for the relevant state.


ACT Fair Trading
Tel: (02) 6207 0400
NSW Fair Trading
Tel: 13 32 20
NT Consumer Affairs
Tel: 1800 019 319
QLD Fair Trading
Tel: 13 13 04
SA Consumer and Business Affairs
Tel: (08) 8204 9777
or 13 18 82 (SA country callers only)
TAS Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading
Tel: 1300 654 499
VIC Consumer Affairs Victoria
Tel: 1300 558 181
WA Department of Commerce
Tel: 1300 304 054

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) may also be able to assist you in lodging a complaint in this area. Contact the InfoCentre on 1300 302 502. 

Illegal Activities and Damage

If your complaint relates to illegal activities taking place at the property during your stay or incidents involving violence or damage to property you can contact the local police for the relevant state. 

Innkeeper's Legal Liability

In the event that your property is damaged or stolen during your stay, accommodation providers may have a limited liability for the loss of guest property in certain circumstances. The extent of this liability varies according to state laws as listed below. Liability of the accommodation provider will generaly only apply to a guest of the accommodation on the day that accommodation is provided and excludes certain items such as cars, animals etc. For full details guests should consult the detail of the relevant legislation in the relevant state.

State Legislation relating to Innkeeper’s Limited Liability:

ACT - Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 ss151, 152
NT - Accommodation Providers Act 2002 ss5, 6, 7
NSW - Innkeepers Act 1968 s7
QLD - Traveller Accommodation Providers (Liability) Act 2001 s12
TAS - Civil Liability Act 2002 s49A
VIC - Carriers and Innkeepers Act 1958 ss29, 30 (expires 01/09/12) replaced by Australian Consumer Law  and Fair Trading Act 2012
WA - Liquor Licensing Act 1988 s107
SA - There are no equivalent provisions in South Australia 

Assistance for Visitors to Australia

While visitors are in Australia, they are covered by Australia’s Consumer Protection laws which require all businesses to treat consumers fairly. If you would like to lodge a complaint about an Australian business, the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism can assist you in reporting your complaint and can advise you on how to submit your complaint in another language. For more information visit the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism's website.

You can also lodge a telephone complaint while you are in Australia by ringing the Australian Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading Hotline 1300 552 263 (local call cost within Australia). The call will be automatically forwarded to the fair trading agency in the state or territory from which you are calling.