Abta has supported the decision by the Competition and Markets Authority to include package holidays in its investigation into customer refunds.
The CMA announced yesterday that its COVID-19 Taskforce that it was broadening the scope of its probe from just holiday accommodation, weddings and events and nurseries.
It said holidays and airlines account for almost 27,000 complaints, three quarters of the total number relating to cancellations and refunds.
A spokesman for Abta said: “Abta supports the CMA’s position which highlights in which circumstances they expect consumers to be provided a full refund by the travel service supplier and we agree that time frames and terms for providing refunds should be made clear to consumers and that consumers should not be misled or pressurised.
“When customers request a cash refund for a cancelled package holiday the majority of tour operators are providing them as quickly as they are able to, which is Abta‘s expectation of its members.
“However, the long delays in getting money back from airlines and other suppliers and the sheer volume of enquiries is making it virtually impossible to do so in 14 days.
“If a company is an Abta member and refuses a refund for a package holiday, then we will investigate this under our Code of Conduct.”
Consumer publication Which? welcomed the decision of the CMA, noting the announcement referenced the number of complaints it has received.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “The CMA’s decision to include package holidays in the scope of its investigation into cancellations and refunds is a positive step, given the huge number of customers that are being left out of pocket by operators openly breaking the law on refunds.
“Many holiday companies also continue to push refund credit notes onto customers, without making it clear when they are legally entitled to a cash refund and with no assurance from the government that these are financially protected, further adding to confusion from consumers around if and when they will ever see their money again.
“The regulator must be ready to come down strongly against any package holiday provider unnecessarily delaying or denying refunds for cancelled holidays, to ensure that passengers have their money returned to them swiftly and trust in the industry is restored.”
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