Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel have defended themselves over their system of asking customers to pay the full balance “unreasonably early”, 14 weeks in advance.
Which? magazine criticised the companies for having the earliest advance payment dates of the 25 companies it looked at, saying: “Why should the full balance sit in a company’s bank account rather than your own for so long?”
The magazine said that some of its readers felt that “these dates are unreasonably early”.
It cited a case where Which? member Robert Rodger was “shocked” about being asked by The Co-operative Travel to pay the full amount 14 weeks in advance, when the accommodation he wanted only required payment six weeks before arrival.
As a result, Rodger didn’t pay the balance and then lost the deposit on his holiday, the magazine reported.
In contrast, First Choice, Thomson, Travelsphere and Virgin Holidays asked for the full balance 12 weeks ahead, while it was 10 weeks for Inghams, nine weeks for Kuoni and eight weeks for Hurtigruten Cruises.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel said the 14-week advance payment was in place to ensure “that we have a consistent deadline with some flexibility built in, allowing time for our customers' holiday payments to be made whether the customer is travelling with us or with other tour operators.
“Many independent agents collect around this time for Thomas Cook and other holidays that they offer.”
Thomas Cook added that direct bookings to its tour operator business had to be fully paid 10 weeks before departure.
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