Unused credit notes can be converted to a refund
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating TUI UK after it received thousands of complaints from people that they were not receiving refunds for their cancelled holidays. Consumer protection law requires refunds within 14 days.
TUI UK has engaged with the CMA throughout the investigation. While a majority of people have received their refunds or rebooked during the CMA’s investigation, any outstanding refund requests for people who had their package holiday cancelled as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be paid by 30 September 2020.
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 given formal commitments to the CMA 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
These commitments apply to all of TUI UK’s different businesses that offer package holidays, including First Choice, First Choice Holidays, Marella Cruises, Crystal Ski, Crystal, TUI Scene, TUI Lakes & Mountains and Skytours.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive, 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.”
CMA has opened investigations into a number of operators
Today’s (16 September 2020) announcement follows significant action by the CMA on cancellations in the holiday sector. It has written to over 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.
The CMA understands that the pandemic has created extraordinary pressure for travel companies, including TUI UK. However, customers who had their holidays cancelled because of coronavirus must be treated fairly and receive their refunds promptly.
The CMA said that it is essential that that all businesses comply with consumer protection law so that people are not being left out of pocket. The CMA published guidance for businesses earlier this year to help them understand their legal obligations.
A TUI UK 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.”
Further information can be found on the case page.