LASTMINUTE.COM faces legal action – unless it repays customers more than £1million for cancelled holidays.
The travel giant could be dragged before the courts amid a row over package holidays, the competition watchdog has said this morning.
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It comes after allegations would-be passengers weren't refunded – despite promises they would be – when their planned breaks were cancelled during the pandemic.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe, and ruled customers must be paid back by the end of January.
At the time of the CMA’s intervention, Lastminute.com owed more than £7m in refunds for holidays cancelled on or before December 2.
Following the investigation, the booking site agreed to pay all outstanding package holiday refunds for these trips by January 31, 2021.
But the deadline came and went without refunds, it's claimed.
And consumer group Which? has reportedly spoken with customers who still haven’t received a full refund.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Despite being given ample time to return all outstanding refunds to customers – as well as clear instructions regarding its liability for refunding both accommodation and flight costs – Lastminute.com has failed to meet this commitment to the regulator.
“The CMA was right to intervene to demand action from the online travel agent, but after failing some of its customers once again, tougher measures need to be taken. "
Travel: What are your rights to a refund?
MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled.
Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.
You are entitled to a cash refund if they've cancelled your holiday but many have large delays or may offer vouchers instead.
If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.
Keep in mind the travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCO advice changed, otherwise you won't be covered.
If you don't have travel insurance, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.
Under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018, if a package holiday is cancelled by the provider, the customer is legally entitled to a full refund within 14 days.
A package holiday is a combination of at least two types of travel or travel-related services made through the same source in a single booking, most commonly flights and accommodation.
Speaking last month, chiefs at Lastminute.com said: "We’d like to start by saying that the refund process has been a very complex and difficult process due to the length and severity of the ongoing pandemic and frequent changes in the travel advice rules.
“Each customer request is unique, and often requiring a human touch-point and we’ve been working hard to get the money processed back through the system and into our customer’s pockets as quickly as possible."
The news comes as furious travellers rage at the Government over its mixed messages on hols.
Many Brits desperate for a sunshine break have already booked trips – only for ministers Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps to disagree on whether holidays will be possible.
The Transport Secretary said until the entire country is vaccinated, travel restrictions are likely to remain in place – meaning even domestic visits may be out in 2021.
But on the same day, the Health Secretary told MPs he's off to Cornwall this summer.
One social media user raged: "They’re stolen a year of my life already. I’ve a holiday booked for the end of April and I’m going!"
Another said: "Does the government have any idea what it’s doing? Appalling messaging and incompetence."
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