STA Travel customer 'fuming' after being left $20,000 out of the pocket

A STA Travel customer has been left 'fuming' after being told her $20,000 spent on travel expenses could not be refunded.

STA Travel has been using funds from customer bookings for operating expenses, an investigation has found.

Deloitte administrators of STA travel found that customers' money being held "in trust" was held in a "client fund account." Those funds were transferred to its operating account to pay for expenses like staff wages and rent.

Bridget Bublitz and her family should be returning from Disney World in Florida this week.

Instead, the money spent with STA Travel has left them $20,000 out of the pocket when the company collapsed earlier this year.

Before its closure, STA told Bublitz she would be getting a refund, but she has since been told, "we can't do that as they don't exist".

"Fuming about that, absolutely fuming there's no way. To me that's theft," Bublitz told Newshub.

After STA filed for insolvency, administrators stepped in - releasing a report showing significant commingling of funds.

Travel Agents' Association New Zealand (TAANZ) president Brent Thomas says it wouldn't happen if customers booked with a company registered to the travel agents' association.

"It will mean their client funds are separated. That means when a person makes a deposit of $1000 it goes into a separate bank account from the operating account."

Newshub has contacted STA travel for comment.

Deloitte administrators weren't available for an interview on camera. They'll hold a meeting on Monday with customers, who can vote on STA's future.