An agency owner faced with £35,000 in card chargeback bills has called for urgent support from Abta.
Nick Edwards, managing director of Snow Finders, warned of a crisis to come as chargebacks from the beginning of the summer season were processed.
“There’s a 30-45-day process, so we will be hearing a lot more from the summer market very, very shortly,” he said.
“We’re sitting ducks as agents. We’re a lot of micro companies exposed to the risks of large tour operators that are not honouring their obligations to refund.
“Visa and Mastercard decide the rules and there is nothing we can do about it. But they just can’t do this without looking at the contract the agent has with the client; ours is very clear.
“I think Abta should be lobbying Visa and Mastercard to say it’s unlawful to take money from an agency where they are the third party. I think their legal department should be used to set a precedent.”
An Abta spokesperson told TTG: “The issue of chargebacks to retailers brought about by the delays to refunds caused by the pandemic is unfortunately continuing.
“Recognising this from the outset, Abta has been doing all it can to alleviate the problem for our members and their customers.
“This action has taken the form of pressurising the aviation regulators to enforce the refund obligations on airlines; making tour operators respect the customer right to cancellation refunds, and pay those as soon as possible and introducing the mechanism of Refund Credit Notes.
“We have also made clear to government the particular issue around chargebacks and that specific support might be required to assist fundamentally healthy companies through this crisis.
"We will continue to make the case to card companies too that it is not in their commercial interest for travel companies to fail, and they should be pragmatic in the application of chargeback rules.”
However, Edwards was not satisfied with the association’s response.
“We feel totally isolated and stranded by Abta,” he said, adding: “It makes me wonder what’s the point of bonding if people can just get their money back this way.”
TTG has approached Visa and Mastercard for comment.