‘Will I get my money back?’ Holiday firms accused of breaking law

PUBLISHED: 10:37 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:56 22 April 2020

A Tui flight Picture: The Boeing Company

A Tui flight Picture: The Boeing Company

The Boeing Company

Travel firms refusing or delaying paying refunds on trips which have been cancelled because of coronavirus are breaking the law, a consumer group has said.

Which? has published an investigation stating that travel companies refusing to pay out are in breach of their legal obligations.

The consumer group also slammed companies which are offering vouchers or credit notes saying “they may prove worthless” if the firm collapses.

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Which? estimated that up to £7 billion in payments made by UK customers are affected.

It said it found that none of the country’s 10 biggest holiday companies, including Tui and Jet2, are offering full refunds within the legal time frame and some are refusing to provide refunds altogether.

Under EU law, travel companies must refund customers within 14 days if their package holiday is cancelled.

Which? also contacted the UK’s 10 largest airlines - including British Airways and easyJet - and claimed that none are refunding passengers according to the law.

Under the EU’s Denied Boarding Regulations, passengers are due a refund within seven days if a flight with an airline based in the UK or EU, or from an airport in the UK or EU, is cancelled.

However, this may not be the case for smaller travel companies or holiday providers.

Brigitta Naunton of Howes Percival answered some frequently asked questions on holiday Ts&Cs.

- Can I insist on a refund?

The first place to look is the terms and conditions you accepted when you booked or paid for the holiday, whichever is later.

These terms and conditions will apply to your booking and are a legally binding contract between you and the travel company.

They will set out the cancellation policy.

If you cancel the holiday yourself, normally you will forfeit the deposit and a proportion of the holiday price.

You will not be entitled to a full refund, unless you have insurance to cover it, depending on the terms of the policy.

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- When will I get my refund?

Refunds would normally be paid in two weeks. However, travel companies are inundated with customers whose holidays have been cancelled.

Many of them do not have available funds to immediately refund all of their customers during the crisis and so refunds are taking longer than two weeks to process.

ABTA is working on some financially-protected Refund Credit Notes as an alternative.

These notes give you the right to rebook the holiday in the future or to receive a cash refund on the date the note expires.

If the travel company goes out of business your note is protected by ABTA or ATOL (depending on the original booking).

Please note holiday vouchers are not the same as Refund Credit Notes and do not offer the same protection.

ABTA recommends that if you have genuine financial difficulties, for example, because of redundancy, and your insurance does not cover that risk, you should talk to your travel company about how you can apply for exceptional assistance which may help you to get your money back sooner.

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