The largest refund programme in the history of the Atol scheme got off to a rocky start on Monday morning (7 October) with dozens of Cook passengers complaining the CAA’s dedicated website had crashed.
After filling out and submitting their claim for via thomascook.caa.co.uk/refunds, users reported receiving an “unhandled fault” error. The CAA has acknowledged the issues and advised people to “try back again later”.
“Due to the unprecedented demand to our website, some users are having difficulty submitting their claims,” said the CAA in a tweet.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience. If you have received an error message, your claim has not been successfully submitted. Please try back again later today.”
Due to the unprecedented demand to our website, some users are having difficulty submitting their claims.— UK Civil Aviation Authority (@UK_CAA) October 7, 2019
We are sorry for the inconvenience. If you have received an error message, your claim has not been successfully submitted. Please try back again later today.
One user told TTG they had repeated the process on “two different computer networks” only to receive the same message.
“[It] does not generate your claim reference number at the final stage of your claim – as if all this was not frustrating enough,” they said. “There is no email address or phone contact number so what happens now? Extremely poor from the CAA in my opinion.”
Another said: “As per usual with this sort of thing, we have to wait two weeks before we can even start the process, then the website can’t cope with demand and just keeps throwing you out.
“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised, but after being told to wait patiently for the quicker and more efficient online process for two weeks, I ‘maybe’ expected better.
“Add to that the two months’ anticipated claim-to-payment time and the usual ‘unprecedented amount of claims to process’ statement that will no doubt be wheeled out to offset the numerous complaints and, all in all, the customers will continue to be left high and dry and waiting for their money.”
They added: “We then tried to call the helpline and, after 30 mins of waiting, got through to a person who was polite but could only simply tell us to keep trying and was unable or unwilling to personally complete our claim over the phone.
“Currently, we have been trying for over an hour with no luck. Clearly the CAA think it’s acceptable for someone to sit at their computer for 24 hours filling in the same form and each time it crashes to start all over again…”
TTG has approached the CAA for further comment.
Cook collapsed with more than 360,000 Atol-protected forward booking, affecting around 800,000 passengers.
The process had been due to get under way last Monday (30 September) but was pushed back to allow the CAA to focus on repatriating the more than 140,000 Cook passengers left stranded overseas when the iconic operator collapsed on 23 September.
Operation Matterhorn, the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation programme, was due to be completed on Monday morning (7 October).
The CAA says the refund process will be the largest under the Atol scheme in its history, more than three times the size of its previous largest refund operation.
Passengers were told last week bookings made via debit cards would be refunded within 14 days, while bookings made by credit card would be paid within 60 days of the CAA received a completed claims form.