Agents have hit out at the Civil Aviation Authority, saying hundreds of their customers are still waiting for refunds more than two months after Thomas Cook’s collapse.
Many said clients were now panicking about how to pay balances due for replacement holidays booked. They believed they would have received refunds within 60 days.
The CAA has so far paid back 60% of the claims, worth £160 million, but this week apologised to customers who had not been refunded by last weekend’s deadline.
About 50,000 consumers are still owed money, but the CAA has pledged there would not be any further “significant delays”.
Some agents said most of their clients had yet to be refunded and many had received an email last week saying their booking could not be found and information had to be resubmitted.
Kath Lightbody, manager at Border Global Travel in Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, said none of her 35 Thomas Cook bookings had been refunded. The agency helped many clients with claims while Lightbody personally paid out £5,000 to ensure two bookings went ahead.
She said: “I’ve been in travel for 33 years. I dealt with the collapse of International Leisure Group in 1991 when we sent all the paperwork by post. This time it has been farcical.
“My clients keep getting asked for information they’ve already sent. I feel independent agents have genuinely been forgotten about. I’ve rebooked clients in good faith they will get their money back in 60 days.”
Holiday Village homeworker Marie Vaughan, previously a Freedom Travel Group personal travel advisor, fears for her reputation after clients received emails saying bookings could not be found. She said: “It looks like we didn’t make the booking. None of my clients have been refunded and I’m worried about losing their trust. I cannot tell you what this has done to our mental health. I’ve lost a stone in weight.”
Not Just Travel homeworker Gillian Farr added: “I held my clients’ hands through the process; I made sure they had all the information for the day the claims process went live. It’s so frustrating and embarrassing.”
The CAA said it was in constant dialogue with Cega, the claims agency it has tasked with handling agency booking refunds, and said “thousands” of agents had been refunded.
A spokesman said: “We can assure agents and consumers that all claims, whether booked direct with Thomas Cook or through an agent, are being processed as quickly as possible.
“We are grateful for the support agents have offered customers, helping them complete claims. However, to avoid delays, it is vitally important consumers submit their own claims, using their own contact information.”
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