Package holiday companies Teletext Holidays and Alpharooms will refund £7 million in cancelled holiday fees to customers who lost out due to the pandemic.
The firms have now formally agreed to process all refunds and have the money back in customers’ pockets by the end of August.
Those who have waited the longest will be refunded first, and anyone booking through the companies in the future can rely on their cash being refunded within a fortnight if their holiday is cancelled due to Covid-related circumstances.
The parent company of the firms, Truly Holdings, has now signed an undertaking to formalise the promises, failure to comply could result in court actions and sanctions.
The undertaking was signed following threats by the Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) after it investigated where the £7 million of cash had gone and demanded it was returned to customers.
‘The ability to cancel or change a booking is so important’
It follows similar agreements made by LoveHolidays, Lastminute.com, Virgin Holidays and Tui UK, after thousands of customers complained that the companies had failed to refund them for cancelled trips.
Finance Expert Martin Lewis also gave top tips on his money show last week, telling holiday makers that holidays protected by money back guarantees were duty-bound to refund within 14 days.
Lewis told his ITV Money Show audience that as travel restrictions lift, it is imperative that you book holidays which offer free cancellation, money back guarantees and the option to reschedule your travel dates.
He said: “The ability to cancel or change a booking is so important right now, package holidays often from travel agents or travel firms have strong protection.
“This tends to occur when you’re booking two or more things like your flight and hotel together, or major excursions. If Covid restrictions stop the trip, you’re due a refund within 14 days.”
‘Companies should be doing the right thing’
Following the move by Teletext and Alpharooms, Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “There’s no excuse for travel firms to delay refunding customers what they are legally owed, even in these extraordinary times.
“Companies should be doing the right thing without the threat of court action. As a result of our work, customers who have waited many months for their money back from Teletext Holidays and Alpharooms will now receive a full refund.
“With international travel resuming and many people considering long-awaited trips abroad, all package holiday firms must give refunds within 14 days where these are due, and should also provide clear cancellation information so that no one else is unnecessarily put through this ordeal.”
Teletext will also have to provide the CMA with regular reports on the progress of its repayments.
A spokesperson for Teletext Holidays said further details on the refund timescale and process will be published on its websites on Friday, adding: “We are pleased that a successful conclusion has been reached with the CMA in regards to the processing of refunds for our customers who have had their package holidays cancelled due to Covid-19 ”
Customers awaiting or requesting a refund from the companies will now be able to access dedicated pages for refunds and those who received credit notes but not yet used them will also be offered the opportunity to receive a cash refund instead.