Tui UK has told a government watchdog it will refund all customers with cancelled holidays by the end of the month.
The Competition and Markets Authority has been investigating Tui following “thousands” of complaints from customers who did not receive refunds within the 14 days required under consumer protection laws.
The CMA said Tui “has engaged constructively” with it and has now agreed to pay all outstanding refunds by 30 September.
The CMA said: “Some customers may have accepted refund credit notes. It is important they know they are entitled to a cash refund as an alternative. Tui UK has now agreed to contact customers who have an unused credit note, to let them know they can convert it to a refund, which will be paid within 14 days.
“The CMA wants to ensure that Tui UK meets its obligation to pay refunds on time in the future. Therefore, Tui UK will report regularly to the CMA over the coming year on the time it has taken to refund customers.”
The commitments apply to all of Tui UK’s brands, including First Choice, First Choice Holidays, Marella Cruises, Crystal Ski, Crystal, Tui Scene, Tui Lakes & Mountains and Skytours.
The CMA is cracking down on the travel sector. It has written to more than 100 package holiday businesses to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law and has opened investigations “into a number of operators”.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “It’s absolutely essential that people have trust and confidence when booking package holidays and know that if a cancellation is necessary as a result of coronavirus, businesses will give them a full, prompt refund. The CMA’s action ensures that Tui UK customers will get their refunds by the end of the month.
“The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. If we find that businesses are not complying with consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action.”
A Tui spokesperson said: "We remain sorry that holiday refunds took longer to process during the height of Covid-19. The volume of cancellations and customer contacts was unprecedented, and at a time when retail stores, contact centres and offices were closed because of the nationwide lockdown.
"We worked tirelessly to deliver system improvements in extremely challenging circumstances, making refund times shorter prior to the CMA engagement with the package travel sector. Where due, customer refunds will be made within 14 days, as they were prior to the pandemic. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding."