Over the last few weeks, you may have seen that people have found it difficult to receive a refund from their cancelled holiday or wedding. Maybe yourself, a relative or a friend have been facing this struggle. Now Britain’s competition watchdog has stated that companies could face legal action, for failing to refund customers for their cancelled weddings, holidays and childcare.
The Competition and Markets Authority are investigating after receiving a rise in customer complaints. Four out of five complaints received have been concerning cancellations and refunds. The three main areas concerned are holiday accommodation, weddings and events, and child care providers. The watchdog is concerned that customers are being pressured into accepting vouchers over a refund. The vouchers are for the value which is not necessary the same holiday accommodation for example, as customers may find that prices have increased when business resumes. It should be noted that the investigation does not include flight tickets as they fall under the Civil Aviation Authority’s jurisdiction.
The Competition and Markets Authority has stated that for most consumer contracts, they would expect a full refund to be issued after a cancellation by the business, when none of the goods or services have been provided. This includes when a consumer is prevented from receiving the service due to the current Covid-19 restrictions. The authority has also stated that the rights to a refund usually still applies, when the consumer has paid what the business claims to be a non-refundable deposit. The current pandemic is not justification for consumer rights law not to be followed.
Consumers should check the cancellation policy within the terms and conditions of their contract with the business. If it states that a refund will be issued in the event of cancellation, then you are most definitely entitled to one. You should then insist on a refund in writing, quoting the relevant terms and conditions. Another good place to look is at the terms and conditions of your travel, home, wedding, or bank account insurance as they may cover you for cancellation.
Another option to retrieving your money is to contact the bank of the card you paid with and ask for a chargeback. Mastercard, Visa and Amex rules include the chargeback process. Under the process your bank will attempt to get the money back from the bank of the business that failed to provide the goods or service. It should be noted that chargeback is not a legal requirement. However, section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is a legal obligation. This section applies to purchases made between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card. Section 75 makes the card issuer equally liable when something goes wrong, so you may be able to retrieve your money this way. It is advised that you try the chargeback service first though.
When it comes to flight cancellations, you do not have to accept a voucher as under European Union (EU) flight delay rules, you are entitled to a refund for the flight that was cancelled or an alternative flight. This covers all fights leaving the EU and United Kingdom (UK). It also covers flights arriving in the EU or UK on an EU or UK airline. If this applies then you are definitely entitled to a refund instead of a voucher regardless of what the airline claims.
Of course, many companies including airlines are struggling with the financial implications of the Covid-19 restrictions, which would explain them pressuring customers into accepting vouchers. If you are happy with a voucher, then you will be helping the company during this difficult period. However, if the business collapses you may find that your voucher becomes worthless.
If you have any questions regarding a contract you have, then please contact the Lawdit team.
By Samuel Killoran who is a Law Student at Solent University