Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, I’ve been inundated with more questions than ever from customers as to how to get refunds when events, flights and holidays are cancelled or when a service is no longer available. The problem is that there so much information out there and some companies are not playing fair when it comes to issuing refunds which they are legally obliged to action. However, worry not, I’ve got your back and have come up with this simple guide to getting your money back if a refund is due.
Companies are permitted to offer alternatives for cancellations such as vouchers or credit notes but they must also offer a cash refund within 7 days for flights or 14 days for package holidays. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you are legally entitled to this refund. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently announced that it will take companies to court if they do not comply.
Please note that if you cancel your holiday or flight because you no longer wish to travel or hold an event then you are not entitled to a refund. You must wait until a cancellation is actioned by your travel operator due to the restrictions. If you still have a balance to pay then pay it otherwise you run the risk of being in breach of contract. If possible make this payment by credit card so that you have additional protection should you need to claim a refund later down the line.
Up to date and official Foreign Travel advice can be found on the gov.uk website and you can check country by country as to what the policy is for individual countries.
First of all, don’t forget the making complaints basics checklist:
Stick to the facts and be clear and concise in the points you make.
Compile a record of all evidence including telephone calls, references, dates and times to support your complaint.
State what action you expect in order to be able to rectify the problem and give a clear time frame for a response.
Quote the relevant legislation to support your case.
Ensure correspondence is documented in writing.
Well-worded letters at this stage are invaluable as they could nip the issue firmly in the bud and save you a whole lot of time, money and stress in the process! Job done!
This hasn’t worked. What next?
If you do not receive a satisfactory response then you may need to consider the following ‘if’ actions:
If communication by email has proved unsuccessful then a Twitter DM (Direct Message) may result in a quicker response. Most large companies have open DMs so you can message them even if you do not follow each other.
If no refund is forthcoming then consider how you paid for the product or service. If payment was made (even if only in part) by Credit Card then you are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and can claim accordingly.
If you paid by Debit Card then you may be able to claim using Chargeback.
If you paid via PayPal, then you should be covered by PayPal Buyer Protection.
Check your insurance policy Terms and Conditions to see if any are applicable to supporting a claim.
If all else fails, you may need to consider taking your case to the Small Claims Court or the relevant Ombudsman. A final letter before action will be required before you can do so as you will need to demonstrate that you have given the company ample opportunities to address the problem before escalating it in this way. Ensure you thoroughly check what you are and what you are able to claim for before filing your case and take legal advice if necessary.
If you are dealing with any company behaving unfairly then you can report it via this gov.uk link.
Where can I find letter templates and help to make my claim?
Which? provides advice as to how to deal with just about any kind of consumer issue you can think of. It has a handy consumer section where you can find simple ways to solve everyday consumer problems and there are template letters for complaints.
Money Saving Expert also has a comprehensive guide as to how to complain with step by step complaining help. Both MSE and Which? are easy to navigate and there are useful letter templates, which you can download and use.
CEO email is a free website which you can use to search for and obtain contact details for CEOs of major companies and organisations.
Citizens Advice gives free and confidential advice to people who need help with financial, legal and consumer issues.
Resolver is a free, independent issue resolution service. You just type in the name of the company that you are experiencing problems with and once you’ve submitted an issue, your complaint will be sent to the right person or team and escalated accordingly.
I hope that the above information is useful and that your claims are successful. Please bear in mind that currently you may have to wait longer for a refund than the statutory 7 or 14 days due to the sheer volume of requests. It is also worth remembering that if we all ask for refunds, companies and industries will fold so if you are in a position to accept a postponement of your trip then please consider doing so. After all, we are all in this storm together albeit on different boats.