How to beat the holiday refund rip-off

Travel firms have been reluctant to give money back for cancelled trips. Here’s what to do if you’re affected.

TUI travel shop in London © Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Companies including TUI are missing the two-week refund deadline © Getty

It seems unlikely that you will be able to jet off for a summer holiday this year. However, if you had a trip booked from March onwards you may be struggling to cancel and get your money back. “Many tour operators, airlines and accommodation providers... have tried to persuade customers to rearrange their trips or accept credit vouchers for future holidays instead of a cash refund,” says Nick Trend in The Telegraph.

Advertisement - Article continues below

You are entitled to a full refund from your tour operator or airline within 14 days of cancellation. But a study by consumers’ association Which? found that all 20 of the biggest travel firms, including TUI and British Airways, were missing the two-week deadline. If you are struggling then the Competition and Markets Authority would like you to get in touch with examples of bad practice. Mention this to the company failing to provide your refund. It could make all the difference.

Remember too that the travel company isn’t your only route to a refund. If you paid for something with your credit card, you can also approach your card provider to give you your money back. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act your credit card provider is jointly liable if you don’t get the service or goods you paid for. Section 75 covers purchases between £100 and £30,000. But you don’t have to paid for the entire thing on your credit card. Even if you only put the deposit on your credit card you can still get the full cost back. To make a claim you can print off a template letter from Which? or MoneySavingExpert. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Fill it out with your details and send it off to your credit card company. You’ll have to prove that you couldn’t get a refund directly from the company as part of your claim, so try that route first. If you paid with your debit card you may be able to get your money back through your bank. Chargeback rules allow you to claim for goods or a service within 120 days of purchase. To start a claim, contact your bank to dispute the transaction.

The limitation is you can’t use Section 75 or Chargeback if you want money back for a holiday, trip or event that hasn’t been cancelled yet. If you are worrying about a summer holiday you’ll have to wait until the provider has cancelled it – and you’ve tried to get a refund from them – before you can fall back on your card protection. Finally, remember your travel insurance. If you booked your trip before the coronavirus crisis and can’t go you may be able to claim on your insurance. 



Investment strategy

The coronavirus is scary – but it's irrelevant to your investments

The spread of the coronavirus is causing alarm around the world. And, while it could be a serious short-term threat to human health, it’s not somethin…
24 Jan 2020
Personal finance

How to protect your online passwords

There are several ways to help prevent cyber-criminals from accessing your online accounts, says Ruth Jackson-Kirby.
3 Jun 2020
Personal finance

Beware airlines’ cancellation refund ruses

The battle for refunds for cancelled holidays rumbles on.
1 Jun 2020

Beware: mortgage payment holidays could cost you

Taking a break from mortgage or credit-card debt could ultimately cost you more in extra interest than the money you save.
26 May 2020

Most Popular

UK Economy

What bounce back loans can tell us about how we’ll pay for all this

The government will guarantee emergency "bounce back loans" for small businesses hit by Covid-19. Inevitably, many businesses will default. And there'…
1 Jun 2020

This looks like the biggest opportunity in today’s markets

With low interest rates and constant money-printing, most assets have become expensive. But one major asset class hasn’t. John Stepek explains why com…
2 Jun 2020

These seven charts show exactly why you must own gold today

Covid-19 is accelerating many trends that were already in existence. The rising gold price is one such trend. These seven charts, says Dominic Frisby,…
3 Jun 2020