Vivid Travel managing director Kane Pirie has launched a “campaign to protect consumers”, accusing other travel companies of “trying it on” with refunds.
Pirie believes vouchers in place of cash refunds are “unnecessary and very unfair” to customers, “not least as their critical Atol and chargeback protection is unclear”.
He said: “I have been trying to persuade the UK travel industry to play fair with customers over refunds due to coronavirus holidays being cancelled for several weeks, but sadly have failed.
“Companies across the industry are now ignoring the law and it’s descending into chaos.
“I have spoken to many customers over the past few weeks who are literally in tears, at their wits’ end with money worries and cannot afford to pay their household bills, yet they have thousands of pounds sitting with their travel company that they can’t access.
“Currently there is a dangerous trend across the industry to insist customers accept a voucher, in some cases with no end date for cash conversion, instead of the cash refund they are owed.”
If any amendments are to be made to the PTRs, Pirie believes that it should be specifically to extend the current 14-day deadline through a grace period. “In effect, an armistice,” he said.
Pirie added: “To make sure that financial protection regulation remains robust and that consumers get their refunds as per the law, albeit later than the 14 days specified which is currently impractical, I am now appealing to a wider audience.”
Pirie is launching a campaign called It’s Right to Refund.
“We all recognise tour operators will need more than 14 days to put the finance in place and process the refunds, but it makes my blood boil to see some leading companies try to hoodwink customers into trading their 100% protected right of refund under their original Atol certificate for a flaky voucher, which never converts to cash.
“They are just trying it on and hoping customers don’t cry foul.
“It’s a straight red card offence and the guilty tour operators know full well what they are doing.”