Owner of Hoseasons said it acted ‘fairly and responsibly’ over coronavirus refunds

Hoseasons. Pic: Archant

Hoseasons. Pic: Archant

The firm behind a Lowestoft holiday agency said it acted “immediately” in offering refunds after a policy change because of coronavirus.

Vacation Rentals, behind Hoseasons and also Cottages.com was investigated after customer complaints from people saying they were unable to get their money back after trips were cancelled because of coronavirus.

After a grilling by consumer group Which? the firm, along with others, was reported to the CMA, Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA has now stated the firm voluntarily changed its policy and that it had given a commitment that customers would have this option if a booking was cancelled because of coronavirus.

The holiday firm said it had done all it could since changes in the guidance on refunds in April and were proactive in changing its terms even before the CMA investigation.

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A statement from Vacation Rentals said: “We believe we have acted fairly and responsibly at all times. We responded and adapted to the evolving issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic whenever new guidelines from the government were made available.

“Following the CMA’s statement on April 30 clarifying its view on the law on cancellations of consumer contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic, we acted immediately and expanded the options available to any customers who were due to travel during the government-imposed lockdown period to include a full cash refund. We did so because we felt it was the right thing to do.

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“By the time the CMA’s investigation into our business commenced, we were already acting in line with the CMA’s guidance. The investigation concluded swiftly and resulted in voluntary undertakings on our part.”

The CMA, which set up a coronavirus taskforce looking into all kinds of customer complaints concerning holiday cancellations, said it had received around 4,500 complaints, of which those about Vacation Rentals had made up “a significant proportion”.

It issued a statement: “Other holiday lets firms, however, have not yet agreed to do the same as Vacation Rentals, and the CMA’s investigation is continuing.”