Travel refund measures ramped up after 21,000 out of pocket holidaymakers issue complaints

Travel refund measures ramped up after 21,000 out of pocket holidaymakers issue complaints

Travellers continue to struggle to get the refunds they are owned as a result of coronavirus cancellations, with the Competition and Markets Authority revealing it has received an influx of 21,000 complaints. Of those complaints, 80 percent of them are to do with travel operators lack of communication surrounding refunds.

The Competitions and Markets authority posted a tweet this morning saying: “UPDATE: As of 19 April, we had received around 21,000 #coronavirus related complaints.

“We’re writing to businesses about price rises & planning further steps on cancellations and refunds.”

Under current EU law, customers are entitled to a refund within 14 days for cancelled package holidays and within seven days for cancelled flights.

However, many Britons have said this is not happening.

What’s more, with a huge proportion of the country now working less or out of work completely, these refunds are becoming an urgent necessity for many.

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A self-employed woman named Lynne contacted the BBC and explained that she was due to go on holiday in May, but has since been offered a credit note which she must use by July 30. She has not been offered a refund.

Meanwhile, a holidaymaker named Brian from Suffolk said he spent £9,000 on a holiday to Japan and has only been offered a credit note.

According to BBC News: “He’s now said that from the 31st of July he will be able to potentially discuss getting a refund, but he says the money is urgently required now. He says: ‘I can’t even contact the company by telephone and email are all unanswered.’”

On the other hand, travel industry regulator ABTA has highlighted the major difficulties many travel firms are faced with in these unprecedented times.

Given the vast number of cancellations, many travel firms face bankruptcy if they are to payout immediately.

ABTA has additionally warned that should travel firms collapse, taxpayers may be left footing a bill of up to £4.5 billion to refund customers.

The BBC also points out that some travellers have applauded certain operators for their speedy refund process.

According to BBC News: “Andrew says he had a £450 deposit for a BA holiday to Greece refunded quickly, they didn’t have to ask either.”

Despite the positive responses, too many customers remain in limbo.

The Competitions and Markets Authority says it is now working to “identify, monitor and respond to competition and consumer problems arising from coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it.”

On the gov.uk website, a statement explains: “People and businesses who have seen or experienced businesses behaving unfairly during the coronavirus outbreak can report it to the CMA by using our dedicated online form. Where there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law, the CMA will take enforcement action if warranted.”

Additionally, consumer rights advocate Which? has laid out a 10-point plan which it hopes will support the industry through this period, while also ensuring customers get the money they are owed.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “We do not want to see the industry suffer further as a result of this outbreak, but it cannot be on consumers to prop up airlines and travel firms, especially when so many will be in difficult financial situations of their own.

“The government must urgently set out how it will support travel firms and airlines to ensure they can meet their legal obligations to refund customers for cancelled travel plans – and avoid permanent damage to trust and confidence in the travel industry.”

Published at Mon, 27 Apr 2020 07:45:00 +0000