Abta needs to crack down on the length of time operators are taking to refund clients, a leading independent agent has said.
Lee Hunt, Deben Travel owner and managing director said the government’s assurance that Atol now covered Refund Credit Notes meant Abta should compel members to refund clients.
“My hope is that now the government has put assurances around RCNs that maybe it’s time for Abta to step in and say, we appreciate it can’t be done in 14 days, but you need to put a date on; whether it’s 60 days, whether it’s 90 days, but we can’t just leave our customers hanging.”
He said Abta “now has the opportunity to shine” and should raise the prospect of future consequences, possibly including barring some members, if these rules were not adhered to.
Speaking during TTG’s One Week At A Time, Hunt said the RCN issue had dented confidence in the industry, with agents bearing the brunt of some clients’ anxieties.
“Why have those guys at Deben Travel been telling us for months that this is protected and actually they haven’t been. It worries me because as an industry we are building trust – is this another thing that is potentially going to go against us?”
The problem was on going, he said. “Those companies we had refund issues with at the beginning of the crisis, we are still having issues with them now…It’s just unacceptable now that we’re, I believe, 17 weeks in from when we had our first cancellation and yet 17 weeks on some of our customers are still waiting for refunds.”
He said some operators had told clients as long ago as March that RCNs were protected under the Atol scheme.
“Certain operators have been telling us for a good few months now that they have been protected and in fact they haven’t been.” He said it was “luck’ these operators were still in business.
“My other concern is if we do have the second dreaded spike, because RCNs are valid until September 2021, I hope we’re not going to be in a position where some operators say you can have a cash refund, but it won’t be until September 2021.”