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COVID-19: given final warning after holiday refund deadline expires

Written by on 12 February 2021 has been given a further week to meet its agreed timetable for refunds to package holiday customers during the coronavirus crisis.

The online travel agent had pledged, under a deal with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, to make £7m in payments due to 9,000 customers who had holidays cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The deadline to complete the backlog was the end of January.

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‘Too early’ for summer holiday plans

But in an update on Friday, the regulator said that 2,600 people were still waiting for their money.

It warned that legal action would be launched unless the payments, totalling £1m, were completed within seven days.

The CMA said that it would also go to the courts if failed to meet its obligations for full refunds within 14 days from now on after it found that some customers were still waiting for their money on trips cancelled on, or after, 3 December.

It described the company’s behaviour as “totally unacceptable” as package holiday firms and airlines face scrutiny over repayment practices under pressure from consumer groups.

The watchdog revealed in December that it was investigating whether airlines had breached consumer rights by failing to offer cash refunds for flights passengers could not take. blamed the impact of the third COVID-19 lockdown for dragging its heels on repayments and claimed “confusion” over the refund process had been created among some customers by Ryanair.

The company’s statement said it had offered the CMA an action plan to meet its requirements.

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Hancock booked holiday amid ‘uncertainty’

Managing director Andrea Bertoli said: “We sincerely apologise to all customers still waiting for their package holiday refunds and we are making every effort to resolve any remaining delays customers are facing.

As of today, almost 50.000 package holiday customers have been refunded more than £40m in the UK and £1.3m pending.

“Despite all our efforts and commitment, we did not meet the CMA undertaking’s deadline for this small proportion of customers because of the impact of the unforeseen third lockdown and Ryanair disrupting the refund process.”