Lastminute.com is facing a threat of legal action from the UK’s competition watchdog after it failed to meet its commitment to return in excess of £7 million it owed to more than 9,000 customers whose holidays were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
The OTA signed formal undertakings with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December to pay the money back to consumers by 31 January. However, the CMA on Friday (12 February) revealed Lastminute still owed more than £1 million in refunds to some 2,600 customers.
The CMA said the OTA had also failed to meet its commitment to repay all customers entitled to a refund within 14 days of their package holiday being cancelled on or after 3 December 2020.
In addition, the CMA alleges Lastminute told some of its package holiday customers to seek refunds for air fares directly from their airline, a breach both of its commitments to the CMA and of the Package Travel Regulations.
Lastminute has been given seven days to pay all outstanding refunds or face court action; the CMA added it would also look at further legal action if Lastminute fails to refund any new package holiday customers within 14 days if their trip has to be cancelled.
"It is wholly unacceptable that thousands of Lastminute.com customers are still waiting for full refunds for package holidays despite the commitments the company signed with us," said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
"We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously. If Lastminute.com does not comply with the law and pay people their outstanding refunds quickly, we will take the company to court."