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The UK’s competition regulator has warned the holiday industry that it must inform travellers of their refund rights, as it forced Tui, Europe’s largest travel company, to make it clearer that customers can get cash back.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Thursday said it had written to 100 package tour companies reminding them of the need to offer refunds for cancelled holidays and to pay back customers within a fortnight.
The travel sector has been among the worst-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, with international movement still heavily restricted even from those countries – including the UK – that have forged ahead with vaccination programmes.
On the Beach, an online travel agent, on Wednesday said it would not sell any holidays for this summer across June, July or August because of doubts over whether they would go ahead.
The CMA warning comes as the UK government prepares to ease restrictions on holidays. From Monday 17 May travellers from England will be allowed to visit a dozen destinations on the green list, without needing to quarantine. They are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Israel and Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira, and two British overseas territories in the Atlantic.
However, the regulator has been concerned by travel firms’’ repeated failures to inform customers of their right to cash refunds if it is forced to cancel bookings. Since March 2020, the CMA has received more than 23,000 complaints from consumers about refund issues, it said.
Tui, an Anglo-German travel company that was a member of the FTSE 100 until the start of the pandemic, has formally pledged to provide clearer information on refund rights after the CMA intervened.
The CMA had previously forced Lastminute.com, LoveHolidays, Teletext Holidays and Virgin Holidays to pay out refunds to customers rather than just offering credit notes.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said: “We want to make sure people are fully aware of their refund rights, so they can make informed choices about booking a holiday.
“We’ve secured millions in refunds for people who couldn’t go on their hard-earned trips over the past year and now we’re calling on package holiday companies to make the refund process less hassle in the future. We expect all firms to give clear cancellation options and will consider appropriate steps if we see companies breaking the law by refusing or delaying refunds this summer.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK package holiday operators warned over consumer refund rights | Competition and Markets Authority