Which? finds lastminute.com has failed to pay refunds
Some customers still have not received all their money back for cancelled holidays, despite the online travel agent committing lastminute.com to the regulator that all refunds would be paid by the end of January, Which? has revealed.
After months of breaking the law on holiday refunds, the company was investigated by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in December and it agreed to pay all outstanding package holiday refunds that were cancelled on or before December 2nd by the end of January.
Despite this, Which? has seen reports from several customers through social media who still had not received a full refund after the deadline had passed.
At the time of the intervention, the seventh largest travel agent in the UK owed more than £7 million in refunds for holidays cancelled on or before December 2nd.
Although it seems to be paying back customers for the hotel portion of their trips, Which? found evidence that it had not returned the cost of cancelled flights to some of its customers by the deadline.
Some online travel agents have reported difficulties in securing refunds from airlines to pass on to their customers, meaning many people have reported only receiving partial refunds for their cancelled package holidays.
However, under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018, if a package holiday is cancelled by the provider, the customer is legally entitled to a full refund within 14 days.
A package holiday is a combination of at least two types of travel or travel-related services made through the same source in a single booking, most commonly flights and accommodation.
The commitment made by lastminute.com to the CMA was to refund all money to customers for both accommodation and flights.
Only after Which? approached lastminute.com were both customers told they would receive their money back for the outstanding portions of their refunds.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Despite being given ample time to return all outstanding refunds to customers – as well as clear instructions regarding its liability for refunding both accommodation and flight costs – lastminute.com has failed to meet this commitment to the regulator.
“This is perhaps unsurprising to its customers, given it was voted the UK’s worst accommodation booking site in our latest survey, faring little better when it was ranked for flight bookings.
“The CMA was right to intervene to demand action from the online travel agent, but after failing some of its customers once again, tougher measures need to be taken.
“The CMA should uncover how many customers were not refunded in time and take appropriate action against lastminute.com, sending a clear message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable.”