The government has warned more than 100 of the most complained-about UK travel companies that they must comply with consumer laws over refunds for cancelled holidays or face legal action.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has received 17,500 complaints from the public about companies which sell package holidays over failures to give refunds and inform consumers of their statutory rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
The watchdog has written an open letter to the companies with the most complaints warning them that they must comply with the law or else face action from them or local trading standards offices.
The open letter comes as thousands of holidaymakers struggle to get their money back for cancelled holidays with some companies stalling claims by passing on the liability to other firms.
“Intelligence suggests that businesses may not be providing the refunds required by consumer law when package holiday contracts are terminated as a result of Covid-19,” the letter from the CMA director, Cecilia Parker Aranha, states. “The CMA expects that consumers who are entitled to refunds will be paid those refunds, and that businesses will comply with consumer law.”
The thousands of complaints centre around the failure to provide refunds no later than 14 days from the termination of a holiday and companies engaging in unfair practices such as giving misleading information about people’s statutory rights.
Some consumers have been charged a fee for trying to cancel their holiday even though they are entitled to a full refund, while others have been told to request a refund by phone but are then unable to contact the company.
The CMA told the businesses, which have not been named, that they must act immediately to bring themselves in line with the law. “While the CMA is not beginning enforcement action against your company at present, we continue to monitor the complaints and intelligence that we are receiving,” the letter said.
This post has originally been featured in Guardian.