Finally! How you CAN get a holiday refund: Travel agents and airlines are clinging onto cash from cancelled trips… but readers say it is possible to break the deadlock
- Thousands still empty-handed after months of battling travel firms for refunds
- Airlines being probed for sitting on more than £7bn owed for cancelled trips
- Readers say they have had success by going to their bank or credit card provider
- Consumer Credit Act allows customers to reclaim credit card payments
Thousands of holidaymakers are still empty-handed after spending months battling travel firms for sizeable refunds.
Airlines are under investigation for sitting on more than £7billion owed to passengers for cancelled trips, while travel agents have been accused of flouting the law.
But readers have told Money Mail they might have found a way to break the deadlock.
Many say they have had success by going to their bank or credit card provider instead.
Going nowhere: Airlines are under investigation for sitting on more than £7billion owed to passengers for cancelled trips, while travel agents have been accused of flouting the law
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act allows customers to reclaim credit card payments.
Or you can claw back money from your bank via a chargeback claim, which covers all card payments, although it is not a legal right.
Which? says the number of people using its chargeback and Section 75 tool is up six-fold since the start of the year.
Experts have warned it may not be straightforward, as claims are not being handled consistently. But Money Mail has now heard from scores of readers who have successfully won back their holiday cash from their bank or card provider.
So how you can do it, too?
We won back thousands…
Victory: Mike Hurst says his family won three separate claims
Mike Hurst, 66, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, says his family won three separate claims after being fobbed off by Ryanair.
The airline cancelled their August flights to Croatia, costing more than £2,000 in total. He and his sons were offered vouchers, which they rejected due to Mike’s ill health.
Under Section 75, PayPal and Santander refunded his two sons after two and four weeks respectively, while Barclaycard refunded Mike after six weeks.
Mike says: ‘It seems the refund succeeded because Ryanair failed to provide it in the time required by law.’
Mark Waller, 60, won a £5,000 chargeback claim from his credit card provider Halifax.
Payday: Lesley and John Webb won back more than £8,000 by chargeback with Santander and MBNA after their cruise to Japan was cancelled
Virgin Atlantic told him he would receive a refund at an unspecified date after he and his partner’s flights to St Lucia were cancelled.
Three weeks after claiming, Halifax enacted a chargeback. Virgin has 45 days to challenge it.
Lesley and John Webb, both 73, from East Grinstead, Sussex, won back more than £8,000 by chargeback with Santander and MBNA after their cruise to Japan was cancelled.
The couple were offered a voucher by tour operator Imagine Cruising, but Lesley says the banks approved the chargeback ‘without a quibble’.
Virgin and Imagine Cruising say they won’t be challenging the claims.
So what does chargeback mean?
It allows you to reverse a transaction if services are not delivered. It covers all card payments but is not enshrined in law.
How is Section 75 different?
A legal right under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, it means credit card providers are jointly liable with the retailer for any breach of contract covering goods worth between £100 and £30,000.
You are still covered if the deposit you made was under £100, but the total cost of the goods is between £100 and £30,000.
When can I make a claim?
Card providers usually expect you to have pursued the retailer before making a claim, although this is not obligatory. Experts say you should go to the travel firm and your insurer before claiming.
Should you book a holiday?
It’s nearly June, the sun is shining, and right about now people would usually be eagerly anticipating summer breaks they’ve booked, or planning where to go away.
But this isn’t any given year. Coronavirus and the lockdown means we are advised not to travel abroad, don’t know when we will be able to, and might have to take an extra two weeks off to quarantine when we get back.
On this podcast, we talk holidays: where to go, when you might be allowed to, and the all-important financial side involving booking, cancellations and refunds.
Press play above or listen (and please subscribe if you like the podcast) at Apple Podcasts, Acast, Spotify and Audioboom or visit our This is Money Podcast page.
What do card companies say?
Mastercard and Visa say chargeback can be claimed if a trip has been cancelled due to government restrictions, insolvency or if a voucher or credit note is rejected by the customer.
However, this does not apply to firms based in countries where the government has approved the use of vouchers instead of refunds, such as Italy.
American Express would not say more than that it was following ‘normal procedure’ and would take into account merchants’ terms and conditions.
Airlines are under investigation for sitting on more than £7bn owed to passengers for cancelled trips, while travel agents have been accused of flouting the law
What are the exceptions?
Any payment made via a third party, such as a comparison site, is not covered under Section 75. PayPal is considered a third party unless payment is made with a PayPal credit card.
Goods also have to be for ‘your benefit’, so flights booked for family members may not be covered, although this is open to dispute.
Should I try chargeback?
There is no upper or lower limit to claims, but timescales vary when it comes to how long you have to make a request. It is normally used for payments you didn’t make or authorise, and isn’t designed to settle disputes with a retailer.
Unlike Section 75, a retailer can dispute a claim. If upheld, take it to the Financial Ombudsman.
Do some banks dismiss claims?
Which? has previously found that some banks are rejecting chargeback claims when businesses have offered credit notes or vouchers as an alternative.
Most will go only as far as saying they are treating claims a case-by-case basis, depending on terms and conditions with the retailer.
Is it the answer to refund hell?
Martyn James, of consumer complaints website Resolver, says anecdotal evidence suggests chargeback or Section 75 is quicker and ‘you don’t lose anything by submitting a claim’.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, says it is worth a shot if you have ‘reached a stalemate’, but does warn that banks are taking ‘an inconsistent and confusing approach’.