In the last year, millions of consumers have had their holidays canceled because of the pandemic. And, many have faced difficulties when trying to get a refund.
In fact, a report by Which? found that over £1 billion in refunds was being withheld unlawfully from customers in the UK alone, with similar figures being seen around the world.
Now, one online travel agent, lastminute.com, is facing court action for failing to pay its outstanding refunds. Unless it pays consumers the money they’re owed, it could be given a large fine by the courts.
In December, lastminute.com pledged to refund its customers money for package holidays that had been canceled due to the pandemic. But, it failed to do this in time for the deadline, which was the end of January this year.
So far, over 9,000 customers have made a refund claim over their holidays being canceled. This totaled over £7 million overall, but £1million of this is still outstanding, with 2,600 customers still not receiving their compensation.
Additionally, the travel agent supposedly advised some customers to go to the airline directly to get a refund on the flight costs, which goes against the regulations.
According to the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the full amount needs to be paid back to the firm’s customers in the next seven days. Otherwise, it will proceed with the court action to recover the funds.
Although the company claims the refund process has been more complex than it expects, the regulator says it has behaved in an unacceptable way.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said, “It is wholly unacceptable that thousands of Lastminute.com customers are still waiting for full refunds for package holidays despite the commitments the company signed with us.”
“We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously. If Lastminute.com does not comply with the law and pay people their outstanding refunds quickly, we will take the company to court.”