Awaze UK has denied it has intentionally profited from duplicate bookings and last-minute cancellations in recent weeks.
The company – which owns Hoseasons, cottages.com, English Country Cottages and others – has been inundated with a record number of reservations in the UK as Covid-19-related travel restrictions are lifted.
However, angry customers, some of whom have seen trips cancelled at the last minute, have accused the company of purposely rebooking customers at higher rates – something that has been strenuously denied.
A statement from Henrik Kjellberg, chief executive of Awake UK, said: “I want to acknowledge and sincerely apologise for the current issues surrounding a small number of duplicate or last-minute cancelled holiday bookings that have happened recently.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have experienced unprecedented levels of demand to our websites and contact centres.
“Though we expected demand to resurface as UK travel restrictions were lifted, we did not plan for a tenfold increase, which is what we have experienced on some of our platforms in recent weeks.
“To put it simply – our systems did not scale to the level we needed them to and this regrettably caused some duplicate bookings to occur.”
Awaze UK said it had welcomed half a million customers for a holiday in August alone – a previously unprecedented level of demand.
“We have now put new measures in place and have been working fast to add further capacity both to our telephony systems and by adding more staff to our contact centre,” added Kjellberg.
“While we will always try and find alternative accommodation for guests, if this is not possible, rest assured we will be and have been providing a prompt full cash refund to anyone who has been affected.”
Speaking to Breaking Travel News, Awaze UK also pointed to a number of other eventualities which are outside of its control.
Owners take bookings without informing the company, for example, or grow concerned about a rise in Covid-19 cases and enforce gaps between arrivals, which can complicate reservations.
“Due to the large number of last-minute bookings and rebookings we have received there have been a small number of duplicate-booking issues within our system.
“We have apologised to those customers involved and are working with them to ensure they can rebook their holiday, or receive a prompt cash refund.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused and ask if customers could bear with us while we resolve the issue,” added a spokesperson for Cottages.com.