Lastminute.com is the latest UK travel firm to agree refunds for cancelled holidays due to Covid-19 following pressure from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
THE CMA has been investigating lastminute.com following hundreds of complaints from people not receiving refunds for cancelled package holidays.
The CMA report that more than 9,000 customers are waiting for refunds totalling more than £7 million.
UK and European law states that cancelled package holidays must be repaid within 14 days but many firms have struggled to comply due to the sheer number of refunds claimed due to coronavirus.
Following CMA intervention lastminute.com has now signed “undertakings” to repay all outstanding refunds as soon as possible and by 31st January 2021 at the latest. There is a commitment to repay at east 50% of customers by 16th December. Any cancelled holidays after 3rd December would have to be repaid within the normal 14 day period.
The CMA has written to more than 100 package holiday firms in the UK to remind them of their lawful obligations and has already received refund commitments from Sykes Cottages, TUI UK, Vacation Rentals and Virgin Holidays.
Many package holiday companies have blamed airlines and accommodation providers for the delays in providing refunds. We have recently spoken to travel agents who have said that some airlines are taking months to refund money from cancelled bookings.
“Online travel agents have a legal responsibility to provide prompt refunds to customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to coronavirus – irrespective of whether the agent received refunds from airlines and accommodation providers.”
“Our action today means that customers whose holidays were cancelled by lastminute.com will receive their money back without undue delay.”
“The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms following concerns that people are not getting the refunds they’re entitled to when bookings can’t go ahead because of the pandemic. If we find that businesses are breach.”CMA
Some travel firms place customer booking funds in a trust fund so that they are protected and can be refunded or utilised on alternative travel plans in the event of a cancellation. Most companies however do not have this protection and rely on reserves and cashflow for quick refunds, both of which have been decimated by the pandemic.
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