Thousands of holidaymakers have been given the runaround on getting their money back during the pandemic. Here’s how we helped get a member a full refund.
Which? Legal member Brian was one of the thousands of would-be holidaymakers whose plans were interrupted by COVID-19 – his £4,355 Riviera river cruise was cancelled on 15 April due to the pandemic.
Brian promptly wrote to Riviera requesting a full refund but received no reply (Riviera says it never received the letter).
When Brian chased Riviera, it told him it would take up to eight weeks to process a refund and offered him alternatives.
After Brian reminded Riviera of its legal obligations, it offered to refund him within five working days.
We told Brian that package holidays are governed by the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, which says that if a tour operator cancels a holiday due to extraordinary circumstances, it must refund you within 14 days.
The FCO advice against cruise ship travel will lead to most upcoming cruises being cancelled or postponed.— Which? Travel (@WhichTravel) July 14, 2020
Most customers should be legally entitled to a cash refund within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations.#RefundPassengers 👇https://t.co/Y5hCIjMj9r
Where your package holiday is cancelled, or if it can no longer be provided by the tour operator, it must refund you in full. We advised Brian to put this in writing as a complaint to Riviera to prove his right to a refund.
Riviera’s Paul Green told Which?:
“Once Mr Gratton told us he wanted a refund it was paid in 11 days. Offering a £800 rebooking incentive and a refund credit note didn’t replace or delay the payment”
Cancelled holidays: the law
In light of the pandemic, the body that represents tour operators, ABTA, advised its members to offer credit notes an an alternative to refunds.
We found that many tour operators used this as a way to refuse refunds. We have received complaints about Riviera, as well as many other holiday companies, which refused to comply with their legal obligations.
Have you managed to get a refund for a cancelled holiday during the pandemic? Did the company comply with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements?
Which? contacted Riviera Travel as we were concerned about its refund policy early on in the pandemic.
From June onwards, the holiday company made a firm commitment to pay a full cash refund to any customer who wanted one.
It also confirmed that anyone who accepted a credit note, thinking there was no other choice, could call and exchange it for the money they were owed.
Riviera Travel has since been named a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) after its excellent performance in our survey. However, we are continuing to monitor companies and will remove WRP status if any of them backtrack on their promises or give customers the runaround.
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