Competition watchdog urged to raise the bar for companies holding pandemic refunds hostage after a Money Mail poll found millions of people are still waiting for money.
Our mailbag was inundated with complaints about withheld refunds.
And a survey of more than 1,000 people shows that one in ten still has not been reimbursed for vacations, concerts and other canceled reservations.
Blocked: Some airlines refuse to exchange refund vouchers for cash even though vacations are still prohibited
Some 12 percent of those who are waiting for their money have been waiting for more than a year.
It can be revealed:
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urged to threaten more companies with legal action
- Vouchers expire before customers can use them
- Airlines refuse to exchange vouchers for cash even though vacations are prohibited.
Last summer, the CMA said customers “would generally be entitled to a refund” for goods and services that could no longer be provided due to the pandemic.
And in July, he warned more than 100 package holiday companies that they could face enforcement measures like fines if they drag their feet on refunds.
But consumer experts say many companies still don’t play fairly.
James Daley of Fairer Finance says, “The time for an apology is up. The CMA must threaten more companies with the courts if it causes them to pay.
How to get your money back
If an airline cancels a flight to or from a UK or EU airport, you are entitled to a refund within seven days.
Fixed price customers must be reimbursed within fifteen days.
If you’re not going anywhere or the business has gone bankrupt, check to see if you can claim your travel insurance.
For other reimbursement requests, the Autorité de la concurrence et des marchés said companies should pay because your contract was “frustrated”.
In some cases, such as wedding venues, businesses may be allowed to keep a small fee to cover expenses.
If you’ve spent more than £ 100 on a credit card, you may be able to make a claim with the card provider.
Debit card customers can request a chargeback (cancellation of the transaction), but this is not a right and there are time limits for complaints.
As a last resort, there is the Small Claims Court.
A survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence for Money Mail found that vacationers were the most likely to be left behind due to cancellations caused by the pandemic.
Four out of ten refunds still unpaid concern flights, 17% concern hotels and 5% cruises.
About 7% are for online shopping, 6% for experiences such as spa days, and 1% for weddings.
Meanwhile, other companies have pushed, if not forced, customers to accept vouchers and credits rather than cash.
More than a third of survey respondents who had received a credit or voucher with an expiration date said they were unable to use it on time.
And four in five of those customers said a company refused to extend the time frame for their use.
Jennifer and Keith Temple spent £ 6,700 on return flights to Australia to visit their daughter in March 2020.
BUT when Covid-19 started disrupting international travel, their Etihad airline canceled their return flight.
The retirees, both 72, paid £ 4,700 to fly back to London Heathrow with Japan Airlines.
But when Jennifer called Etihad to ask them to cover the costs, she was told that only Gotogate – the online travel agency she had booked with – could reimburse her.
However, when the retired district nurse called Gotogate, she said she had to wait for money for Etihad’s flight. A year later, Jennifer has yet to be reimbursed.
Jennifer, from Royston, Herts, said: “I am just appalled at the way we were treated.
The CMA launched surveys of eight companies on their inability to reimburse their customers, prompting all but one to commit to clearing their backlog.
And last month, the CMA threatened to sue Teletext Holidays for default.
But Louise Hastings is still awaiting her £ 790 refund from the company, 12 months after her trip was canceled.
The bank employee had booked a week-long stay in Mallorca in May of last year, but Teletext told her she would not receive a refund until the end of 2020. At the time, Louise, 26 years old, was happy to wait.
A survey by Consumer Intelligence for Money Mail found that vacationers were the most likely to be left behind due to cancellations caused by the pandemic.
But after making monthly Teletext calls since January, she still hasn’t been reimbursed.
Louise, from Bootle, Merseyside, said: “It’s not fair that they keep my money when I’ve been so patient. “
Meanwhile, airlines, including British Airways and easyJet, are refusing to allow passengers to redeem their vouchers or credit notes for cash.
Rory Boland, editor-in-chief of Which? Travel, says: “Many people who have accepted flight vouchers have done so out of goodwill. It will therefore seem extremely unfair to them that the airlines now refuse to reimburse these vouchers when there is no possibility of flying.
Hilary and Kenneth Collins ended up with £ 900 in easyJet vouchers which they cannot use because he has cancer and is too sick to travel.
Their family vacation in Tenerife was canceled last March, along with flights to Ibiza for a wedding in August.
The first voucher, worth £ 563, was due to expire last month and the second £ 326 voucher was to be used in July. But in the summer, Kenneth, 76, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and told to avoid travel for 18 months.
However, easyJet refused to exchange its vouchers for cash.
Hilary, 62, says: “Even when travel resumes, we won’t be the first to get on a plane. It just isn’t worth the risk.
A spokesperson for the AMC claims it has already secured hundreds of millions of pounds for those struggling to get money back.
“We will continue to monitor companies closely to make sure they stay on the right side of the law and treat their customers fairly,” he adds.
After Money Mail intervened, easyJet reimbursed Hilary and Kenneth as a sign of goodwill.
A spokesperson for Etihad said he was not aware of the Temples case because Gotogate had not properly completed the documents for the reimbursement.
A Gotogate confirmed that he has now sent Etihad a new form.
Teletext did not respond to requests for comment.
You have YOUR opinion: corporate frustration is not playing fair
My wife and I have agreed to take a coach vacation from last year to this summer. Tragically, she passed away in February.
When I contacted the company, they told me I should go to my credit card provider to collect the deposit.
I tried to get a refund of £ 162 after canceling my flight on the first lockdown.
The airline offered me a voucher which I refused. I tried chasing the business with calls and emails, but was unsuccessful.
As the best man for my friend’s wedding, I booked a river cruise for 16 of us to Krakow, Poland.
It was canceled and the groom now wants to throw the UK bachelorette party. The company claims it will only refund £ 432 of the £ 640 deposit.
TD, by email.
We requested a refund from a travel agent in January and were told we would receive our money by the end of March.
Last week, the company informed us that we now have to wait until October.
I booked a package for last year and agreed to postpone it to September 2021.
However, the firm has now put us in another hotel, in which I do not want to stay. Every time I called they refused to help me.
SK, Sidmouth, Devon.
Our cruise was canceled in December and when we rang to request a refund the following month we were told it would take 16 weeks. I would have to think hard before using this company again.
I am awaiting reimbursement for three flights booked with the same airline, which amount to £ 264.
I had to request each refund separately online. To date, I have had no contact – even though the first flight was canceled in March 2020.
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