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Websites crash and helplines jam as Thomas Cook holidaymakers try to get refunds

PUBLISHED: 11:40 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:47 24 September 2019

Stranded tourists line up in front of the Thomas Cook counter at the Cancun airport in Mexico, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz)

Stranded tourists line up in front of the Thomas Cook counter at the Cancun airport in Mexico, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz)

People trying to get their hard-earned money back face an agonising wait while prices on holidays with other tour operators soar.

Chaos has ensued following Thommas Cook's demise as those with holidays booked try to get their money back and re-book vacations on sites which can't cope.

Matthew Beeston, a father-of-four whose family holiday to Disneyland, Paris, was scrapped, has been trying constantly to get nearly £800 he's spent so far refunded, half the total cost, which was his inheritance after his mum passed away late last year. He bought Thomas Cook accommodation only, not flights, and has found it hard to find a helpline which covers this. He also paid some cash and some on a debit card for a bank account he has since closed, so can't use the chargeback facility.

"I'm so frustrated, people keep hanging up on me, I've phoned so many different numbers and got through to overflow lines but have got nowhere. I started making a claim for a refund and the website crashed so all my info is stuck in a system.

"The kids were devastated when we told them the holiday was cancelled so we've had to find the money to rebook it. I only used Thomas Cook because of their good reputation."

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Other people are finding websites of other tour operators crashing as so many people try to rebook. And as the demand for holidays has increased, so has the price. Elaine Gooch, from North Walsham booked a special holiday to Cuba costing more than £5,000 to celebrate her 60th birthday and her husband Philip's 65th, for November. She's been told by Barclaycard that she can't even start a claim until next week because of the volume of calls. Even worse is the fact the same holiday is now £2,000 more. "I can't even get the same hotel but a similar spec with Virgin flights is £7,000.

"It's completely taken the shine off our birthdays."

Other people are worried over whether Thomas Cook vouchers are refundable. Sara Kelleher, a business space surveyor, posted on Facebook: 'Anyone know what you do about gift vouchers? My daughter was given some for her 21st birthday two weeks ago. Each one is for £30 so no hope claiming on the credit card they were bought with.'

Others have voiced their anger. Dom de Souza, from Norwich, posted: 'Terrible customer service from a company who would have known months ago it was struggling and going into administration but still happily took customers' money.'

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