In the last week Resolver has had literally thousands of enquiries and questions about travel and holidays, so I thought I’d tackle the big ones. As with all things coronavirus-related, things are changing fast, so keep an eye on the news.
Before we tackle the questions, here’s something for us all to think about. We’re all facing losing out on our summer holidays, but as well as asking, “what are my rights?” we also now have to ask “what is the right thing to do?”
Why can I not have a refund?
If your flight is cancelled by the airline due to FCO advice, then the rules say you should get a refund within 7 days*. That’s for flight from the UK and EU (and other EEA countries) or the airline is based in these countries.
If you have a packaged holiday than again, you should get a refund within 14 days*.
If you booked a non-packaged holiday then your rights depend on the T&C’s – but the Competitions and Markets Authority have said these should be clear and upfront.
*BUT… If we all demand refunds, we might just shut down some – or even all – of the travel firms and airlines out there. So think carefully about your options especially if you’ve used a small business. If you can and are willing to move your holiday forward, you help the industry survive.
Why is my deposit non-refundable?
It may well be non-refundable – but did you understand what you were getting in to when you booked? Most of us book online these days and click through the pop-up screens and other options while skimming over the content they provide. If you weren’t told you were clicking a non-refundable deposit then make a complaint.
Why are flights and accommodation so expensive in 6 months/a year?
It’s likely that this is algorithms rather than profiteering. Airlines and holiday companies pioneered the demand driven computer algorithm that raises or lowers prices depending on demand and availability. So if half a million of us try to move our holiday forward six months, those prices will go up. To beat the computer, wait it out. Keep an eye on prices – they should drop after the initial holiday panic. Check out off-peak times of the day too as prices go up at busy points like lunch time or early evening.
What if the firm goes bust?
If a firm goes bust, then you’ve lost your cash – including vouchers and other forms of credit. However, there’s usually a number of warnings before a firm goes under. Keep and eye on updates and if a firm looks like it is about to call in the receivers, then contact your bank or card provider and ask them to ‘charge back’ your money. This is an industry scheme and it does have time limits but don’t worry about that, just get on the phone and ask. Failing that, if you paid on a credit card over £100 you may be able to make a ‘section 75’ claim under the Consumer Credit Act – contact your card provider.
I’ve been told I can’t cancel – is this right/fair?
Put yourself in the position of the business. You know if everyone demands refunds then you may go out of business. Add to that frontline staff on low wages getting hours of abuse on the phone. Under these circumstances, it makes sense that firm would steer you to vouchers or rebooking. I’m not saying that leaving out refunds is right – it isn’t. But these are unprecedented times and the survival of these businesses is on the line.
What if my holiday hasn’t been cancelled yet?
Many people (largely with bookings in June and onwards) have tried to get refunds but have been told the holiday hasn’t been cancelled yet. This is because holiday firms are trying to survive and are only cancelling up to the point where the official advice is to not travel. Realistically, this situation is likely to change so keep an eye on the news. Use the time to plan out what it is you want to do and prepare a strategy. If the Government says we can travel in July, for example, and your destination country allows this, do you want to go or not? If not, look in to cancellation rights, moving the holiday forward or even selling it on.
Get help and advice with all things coronavirus and lockdown – and all our Resolver’s usual services at http://news.resolver.co.uk