The Competition and Markets Authority will use “all of its powers” to ensure package travel firms pay refunds in a “timely fashion” for cancelled holidays this summer.
Hayley Fletcher, director, consumer protection at the CMA, told the Abta Travel Law Seminar that the slow repayment of customer money last year by some companies had “really undermined trust in the sector”.
“The travel sector will only recover if it rebuilds trust and confidence, and that includes upholding consumer protections under the law,” she told the seminar.
“It’s imperative to provide refunds in a timely manner and it’s not acceptable for consumers to wait many months for a refund. We are willing to use all of our powers to make sure firms comply with the law.
“Our main focus is getting money back in a timely fashion but we are mindful and aware of the real difficulties that firms have faced in this crisis.”
The CMA last week published an open letter to travel firms detailing what it “expected” from the industry this year when it came to refunds.
Under the current law, package travel organisers are required to pay refunds within 14 days of cancellation.
“Any firm refusing a full refund should explain why you disagree with the advice in place and be prepared to defend these actions to us and the individual consumer in court,” added Fletcher.
“We are making it really clear to the industry what we expect from them.”
Fletcher also addressed the issue of refund credit notes (RCNs) as an alternative to customers getting their money back when a holiday is cancelled.
“It’s always the consumer’s choice whether to accept a refund credit note, and it should always be accompanied by the option of a full refund,” she added.
“Any contract terms or statements which restrict consumer rights under the Package Travel Regulations are not binding on them.”