Chargebacks are “not going to go away” and travel companies are seeing varying levels of success fighting them, according to travel law specialist Krystene Bousfield.
Customers have been turning to credit cards to try to claw back the money they have paid for holidays cancelled as a result of Covid-19.
The Travlaw solicitor said firms fighting chargebacks had seen “varying levels of success” and urged businesses to “keep on top of them”.
Speaking in a Travel Weekly Roadmap to Recovery webinar, Bousfield said: “Chargebacks are still very much present in the industry, something that’s not going to go away, unfortunately. We have seen varying levels of success with these.”
She said that quoting MasterCard and Visa guidance in responses to clients is having “great success” but said Amex was proving “a lot more difficult”, since “they haven’t given specific guidance”.
Bousfield advised: “Going forward with disputes, keep acknowledging them, don’t let them fall by the wayside. Clients were looking forward to travel; we’re looking forward to the industry getting back up and running again; but these things are still going to be underlying and we need to need to keep on top of them.”
She said insurance claims were also an issue and urged travel agents and suppliers to maintain a “strong stance”.
“Obviously, people are pointing customers towards the insurance companies,” Bousfield said. “But insurance companies are protecting themselves and pushing back as well. We need to keep our stance strong. We’re giving refunds as and when they’re due, but if customers can claim via that route, we need to make sure we’re helping them do that with any correspondence or any copy documents we can issue them to support that.”
Finally, she warned companies to be “wary” that the date by which some refunds must be paid was looming.
“February and March seems like forever ago, and the first date that people were putting on their Refund Credit Notes was ‘payment will be made 31st of July’. Scarily enough, today is the first day of July, which seems obscure. So it is nearing that date when the Refund Credit Notes are becoming due, and payment is due to these customers. So be very wary that’s at the end of this month,” she said.
Bousfield said there was a better chance now that not all customers holding Refund Credit Notes would cash them in.
“Borders are opening, people are traveling again,” she said. “So when you said to someone in March, do you want to book again? Do you want to postpone your booking? People were saying ‘absolutely not. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’re never going to be able to travel again. I want my money back!’
“But, I think, if you contacted some of these people and say, ‘hello, you’re going to get your cash refund at the end of the month, however, you may have noticed we’ve got some great places in Spain, we’ve got some great places in France, we can offer you this maybe later in the year’, it’s looking a lot more likely that some customers can be persuaded,” she said.
“Refund Credit Notes and your booking are still protected. So you may be able to change a request for a cash refund into that new booking, thereby keeping the money in your business, and looking forward, taking positive steps in supporting your business and the industry.”
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