Well of course they are

‘They’re all passing the buck’: UK travel firms flout the law on holiday refunds
Thousands of UK travellers face long struggle to get their money back for trips cancelled because of pandemic

They’ve spent the money already. Block booked hotels, sorted out the transfers from the airport, paid the advance on the allthesangriayouc’ndrink’n’vomitwelcomeparty and all that. They haven’t got the money they’ve been paid so of course they’re being resistant in paying it back.

It’s a fair and useful and not entirely true statement to say that all and every travel firm – including near all airlines – is bust. If they have to pay all the bookings back they are that is. If they can switch them into vouchers for future trips, or blame someone else, then perhaps they’re not. Sorry ‘n’ all that but that’s reality.

19 thoughts on “Well of course they are”

  1. Well of course they’ve made commitments, paid things in advance, and of course they aren’t going to recover everything they laid out already. Personally, having committed the money this year, I would – in principle – be happy to carry my holiday over to next year or have a voucher for next year, but if the company goes under, then that’s the last I’ll see of the money. That’s why I wanted it back, in full.

    And to give them a huge amount of credit, that’s exactly what Villa Plus did.

  2. Problem with any “guarantee” like refunds or bank deposit protection is that it only works when a small minority of people want to draw on it. If everyone does, then there isn’t the money to pay it all back (as people have found).

    The government (as usual) haven’t helped as they created the problem in the first place and then told companies to pay consumers back. Easy to say for them as they are not stumping up the cash. Not that I’m suggesting the taxpayer should be on the hook – why socialise the losses of holidaymakers to the rest of the population. It was an elective purchase so one which should be absorbed as a loss.

  3. Going to be an awful lot of angry customers when they get only partial refunds but see some firms essentially resurrected later down the line. But it’s tricky to see a better alternative. Allowing customers to get fobbed off with vouchers or IOUs or whatever might keep some firms afloat (though not all) but for those customers who are in an unanticipated cash-strapped situation of their own it isn’t very helpful.

  4. The problem also comes in that the places the company has spent money with may not be around next year. Having spent the money on staying afloat, paying staff, paying rent etc.
    So while travel company could provide vouchers, no guarantee that the vouchers will be honoured by the accommodation, party organisers, airlines etc. Or indeed that the people paid will still be trading next summer – and companies that haven’t had money for services will want paying out of the money the travel company does take in for other holidays!

    Its a tangled web at best. And the best possible solution is for the travel companies to simply go under – then all creditors can get their money pro rata. By way of example when Wonga went under the payout took well over a year and was just over 4%.
    People wanting holidays next year then – will be able to book their holiday, plus insurance, totally afresh.
    Likely to be quite a bit more expensive next year too – social distancing, fewer seats on flights etc.

  5. Those are good points @Martin. “Saving” firms may be very temporary given the likelihood of continued disruption next year.

    There’s a slightly different issue of customers wanting to cancel bookings for holidays/flights that legally can take place but they would prefer to stay at home now (particularly if they’re supposed to have been shielding or similar). Can’t see many firms being in a position to let them cancel and get a full refund, as bad as that looks in PR terms, given that it isn’t generally legally compulsory to.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    The government imposed an unnecessary and pointless lock down that has destroyed tens of thousands of businesses. More or less at random. It will take a while to see where the bills are going to stop and who will have to pay them.

    The annoying thing is that people are blaming these companies and not the politicians and their advisors who caused it in the first place.

    This is a problem calling for a hempen solution.

  7. MBE “Who is cancelling” – Exactly.

    Re booking through a travel firm versus booking direct – anecdote only: Hotel (in Europe that had been booked directly) rang up “terribly sorry and all that, maybe next year?” and the deposit (paid months earlier) was credited back before the kettle had boiled. In this case, it was the hotel that was doing the cancelling (the country had locked down).

  8. SMFS–Listening to the Dellingpole podcast 2 with Simon Dolan. He suggest malfeasance in public office charges could be brought and they carry a life sentence.

  9. Up to a life sentence rather. Apparently Johnson came quite close to a small charge of the same some time ago but it didn’t get proceeded with. But if 7 million do hit the dole –with all the pain that means even for those NOT on the dole–a crowdfunded action might just be possible.

  10. My daughter was due to go on a school trip overseas, then lockdown hit and it was cancelled.

    To my pleasant surprise the dosh was returned in full.

  11. When buying a holiday or similar, always use a credit card. Don’t deal with the holiday supplier any further than to establish that there is a dispute. Then get the money back from the card company, who will debit the supplier themselves. If the credit card people delay, use the magic phrase, ‘I want a refund under the Consumer Credit Act 1974’. You will get your money and any interest paid will be wiped out. They don’t seem to have to do anything unless you mention the act.

    This has worked for me recently, having given the supplier lots of leeway it was evident that nothing was coming from them. Mentioned the act with the CC people and got paid within 24 hours.

  12. We took a punt on deferring to next year, they threw in some upgrades for accommodation etc as a sweetener, time will tell

  13. @rhoda Klapp.

    And when the card company cannot get any money because the holiday company has run out….?
    Credit card company is short then. And only 3 places it can make up the shortfall – the most popular is by getting it from customers. All the customers.

    People appear to have an idea the money is infinite. Having had a company myself where the money ran out there was simply nothing left for anyone. Had CCJs threatened, had visits from debt collectors threatened (and have had them appear). Didn’t generate any money for the business by either threat. The business still had exactly the same money as before the threat.

  14. @rhoda klapp July 5, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Spot on. You beat me.

    CC comps are going to face a deluge of Section 75 claims and afaik they have no out. Bank of America must be glad they sold MBNA for £1.9 billion to Lloyds

  15. Martin, we never had anything beyond an invoice, no money was spent on our behalf for anything tangible. The high street travel agent blamed the wholesale travel outfit, and they blamed the airlines. But no service was provided, no product changed hands. I really don’t see why a full refund was not the only thing that could be done. And it is a condition of the credit card company’s right to supply credit that it take the responsibility for what happens when money is lent to it. That’s what we all pay the massively excessive interest charges for.

  16. Be interesting to see what this does for bookings for the rest of this season. I’m sure I’d be reluctant to fork out anything on foreign holidays, flights, whatever. Not being sure whether whoever’s being paid might not be a going concern when you’re due to travel. In either direction. Or finding you’re destination or the UK has suddenly locked itself down. I’m thinking this season at least is probably dead in the water. There’s certainly no sign of lobster hued, tattooed landwhales on our beaches as yet. It really is a paradise here.

  17. I guess we were lucky. We booked via credit card via a reputable travel agent and much to my surprise we have had the full amount repaid to the card account. Albeit, money was paid in January and the refund in June. But given the situation (and the travel agent kept us informed; we turned down the voucher option for reasons already given by other commentators) the whole process was very commendable.
    I think the experience of people seeking refunds is very variable. Once in a lifetime event is likely–sadly–to leave some people, possibly most people, out of pocket. If people booked directly, they’re more likely do lose out. It’s a bit of a lottery. I guess there’ll be good work for lawyers.

  18. FWIW Eurostar are offering book now and you can change the travel date as many times as you like without fee (14 days notice required, and up to the end of the year).

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