A list of the best and worst airlines and travel companies for dealing with cancellation refunds has been published by MoneySavingExpert.com.
How firms treat their customers due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a “stark divide”, MSE said.
More than 27,000 customers responded to a survey, which asked for their rating, feedback and experiences dealing with 81 travel companies due to problems arising from coronavirus.
Firms were then ranked by subtracting the percentage who had a poor experience from those who had a great experience with the company.
Of the 53 firms that received more than 100 responses, travel agent Travel Trolley was found to be the worst with a net score of -95%, followed closely by TravelUp at -95%, with a slightly lower proportion of ‘poor’ votes, and Teletext Holidays at -94%.
The worst performing major businesses were Ryanair at -82% – from 2,500 responses – and Tui at -60%.
At the other end of the scale, Travel Counsellors came top with a net score of +91%, followed by Hays Travel with +70% and Airbnb with +56%.
Other names that did well were Jet2holidays with +54%, Booking.com with +18% and British Airways with +8%.
MSE will be reporting the findings, with both the ratings and people’s experiences, to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis said: “This is a tough time for the travel industry. It’s one of the sectors worst hit by coronavirus, but it’s a tough time for the public too, many of whom are also in dire straits.
“People aren’t just judging on whether firms failed to give a refund – though that plays a big part. Many poor ratings are also about difficulties in getting in touch, being given the run around, and terrible management of expectations – such as Ryanair sending vouchers to those who’d specifically requested cash refunds.
“People shouldn’t be annoyed with firms offering to move bookings or offering vouchers as refunds.
“Indeed I’d encourage those who don’t need the cash to take them, especially from firms with solid financials, as it’ll help keep the industry going and keep people in work.
“Yet when people are entitled to monetary refunds, to make them sit on phones on hold for hours, often getting cut off to get it, when vouchers are available at the click of a button leaves people feeling rightly riled.
“Sadly, out of the 53 companies rated, only 17 were net positive.
“Yet that means they should get even louder plaudits for trying to do it right. They’re struggling, but are protecting customers too, and the likelihood is when this is all over, they’ll come out stronger and with more brand loyalty because of it.”
In response, Teletext Holidays managing director Wayne Perks said: “Despite the adverse environment we find ourselves in, and all the constraints put upon us, we are working exceptionally hard to support our customers at this unprecedented and very difficult time.
“When we book holidays for our customers, we immediately pay for the flights, and therefore do not retain any of this money within our business. In addition, Teletext Holidays often pay hotels in advance in order to get customers the best room rates.
“Teletext Holidays therefore act as an agent and we are experiencing long delays in receiving monies back from airlines, with some telling us that we will not receive customers money until ‘the virus has passed”.
He added that a two-stage refund process had been put in place, offering customers Atol-protected refund credit notes which they can use up to December 31 for holidays travelling until the end of 2021.
“If they do not decide to take this option, we are offering full refunds from 31st July 2020,” Perks said.
“Despite having to put the most of our UK team on furlough, and having halved the size of our operation in India, the remaining staff have been working literally non-stop with suppliers to cancel holidays and negotiate the waiving of any cancellation fees from them, as well as answering any communication we receive.
“We had to switch our phone lines off because the Indian government enforced a very strict lockdown in the cities where both our sales centres are located and we were unable to get staff into these offices.
“I can now advise that the restrictions are being eased and our sales centres are once again able to take calls, albeit at a reduced rate whilst social distancing is maintained.”
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy said: “We understand that these unprecedented events have had a huge impact on our customers, and we would like to thank them for their loyalty, understanding and patience.
“Our award-winning teams are working around the clock to help and look after customers, and this feedback from MSE is richly deserved for all that hard work.
“As well as looking after customers when times are good, it’s important to look after customers when times are difficult, and we are proud to be doing that.
“We know people remember things like this, and we cannot wait to be flying customers away on their well-deserved holidays again.”
MoneySavingExpert ranks travel firms from best to worst
The table ranks firms by net score (number of ‘Great’ votes minus the number of ‘Poor’ votes – with ‘OK’ votes excluded votes as a neutral rank – and lists the number of responses for each.
Only firms with more than 100 responses have been included and in bold are the 10 biggest firms by number of respondents in the survey.
|6||British Airways Holidays||289||+45|
|27||Norwegian [See note below*]||196||-42|
* After seeking clarification from Money Saving Expert whether Norwegian is the airline or cruise line, this is its response:
“The travel survey intended to mean the airline … but the survey response simply said ‘Norwegian’ – and while we meant airline in theory respondents could have used it for the cruise line too”.
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