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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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