Brits are reportedly being refused refunds for their holidays even if they are cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Which? magazine, some tour operators are instead offering consumers credit notes or the chance to rearrange the date of their trip.
And some customers reported only receiving credit notes for half of their original booking.
Only options credit or rebooking
Holidaymaker Stacey Brook had booked a trip to Sri Lanka with operator STA Travel. The company told her it wasn’t doing refunds.
She had paid £1,485 for the getaway in January. But my mid-March, her holiday was cancelled. She alleges her only options were credit or rebooking.
Another holidaymaker, Jessamy Worms, had issues over the trip she booked with LoveHolidays.
She claims the operator offered her a credit note worth half of the £814 she paid when booking her jaunt in Morocco. And it didn’t include what she had forked out on flights.
It is not acceptable.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “It is not acceptable for operators to disregard the law and refuse to issue refunds for holidays costing thousands of pounds. [This is] to customers who may desperately need the money themselves due to financial pressures caused by coronavirus.”
Nevertheless, both operators said they were following ABTA advice.
ABTA backs refund credit notes
On its website, trade association ABTA says consumers are “protected if elements of the holiday aren’t provided as required”. For an example, it lists “the right to a refund if bad weather means your holiday can’t go ahead”.
One options, it explains, is a “refund credit note”.
It goes on to say that its guidance is to “support a pragmatic discussion” between customers and operators who are “unable to comply with the precise wording of the [Package Travel Regulations] in this crisis, in relation to the 14-day cash refund rule”.
A spokesperson for STA told Which? that the ABTA guidance highlights that “customers may be offered a refund credit note instead of an immediate cash refund”. They also reiterated that customers’ holidays are still have ABTA/ATOL protection in the meantime.
ED! has contacted both companies for additional comment.
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