Caravan and camping holidays in the UK would usually be picking up momentum at this time of year, and were it not for lockdown could be anticipating a hugely positive season due to the UK heatwave. However, as lockdown restrictions drag on, many would-be holidaymakers are now out of pocket having been unable to enjoy their planned holiday.
Martin Lewis and the Money Saving Expert team have explained how Britons can get their money back for unused fees in their latest money tips update.
There are around 365,000 static caravans in the UK, with customers paying as much as £5,000 every year for a pitch.
Though many sites are anticipating reopening in July as part of the UK’s third phase of relaxed lockdown measures, this means some customers are paying for pitches that they have been unable to use for three months.
While customers may be frustrated they have been unable to use their caravan, particularly for those paying “all in one fees” for additional on-site amenities such as clubhouses or swimming pools, the Money Saving Expert team advises Britons “not to be adversarial”.
Mr Lewis adds: “Right now, even in our commercial relationships, we should try not to be adversarial. We want firms to show us patience, compassion and forbearance.
“Yet equally, when our entire economy and way of life is under threat, we must try to return it. Many firms, especially smaller ones, are struggling to cope and this may include your caravan park owners.
“So even though you may have a right to a partial refund, if the firm is struggling and does its best to provide a reasonable alternative, for example, reducing next year’s fee, do take time to consider it.
“It may be that meeting it in the middle is what keeps it financially above ground and protects jobs.”
The Money Saving Expert is continuing to work through a number of legal factors surrounding caravan owners’ rights, but currently offer three steps to follow.
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1. Speak directly to park owners to reach a solution that works for both parties
For customers who believe they are owed a partial refund for unused expenses, the financial experts suggest speaking directly to the park owners in a calm and rational way.
This will allow both parties to share their points of view and may allow for an agreement to be reached regarding a partial refund.
According to Money Saving Expert, the Competition & Markets Authority has indicated that partial refunds should be considered.
“Our guidance on cancellation rights includes grounds for when we would expect a full or partial refund to be issued,” a spokesperson said.
“It covers a range of consumer contracts and different situations, but individual cases may vary depending on contract type – contracts related to caravans might cover a number of different arrangements.
“To work out if a refund is due, each individual needs to look carefully at the service they are paying for and consider whether that service is still being provided during lockdown.”
3. Try to use credit or debit card refund services
One final option is to try and pursue a chargeback or Section 75 for credit cards.
However, given the nature of a partial refund, this may not be as straightforward as with other cash reimbursements.
“This is far more difficult here because we’re only talking about partial refunds, and apportioning the split is difficult,” says Mr Lewis.
“We are still checking with Amex, Visa and Mastercard whether the chargeback scheme can be applied for partial refunds like this and will update when we have firm information.
“Section 75 is more promising here if you paid on a credit card, your lender is jointly liable for the cost (providing you didn’t pay through an intermediary).
“You can go direct to the lender, you don’t have to have been rejected by the caravan firm first (though the card company may try to push that).”
In a worst-case scenario, customers are entitled to take park owners to court over a “frustration of contract” claim due to the pandemic, though the experts warn this should be done with careful consideration.
Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 11:25:00 +0000