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Published on Thursday, April 30, 2020

Kane Pirie writes to ABTA - again








Kane Pirie, the founder of the Right To Refund campaign, has issued another letter to ABTA in the row over refunds.

It is the second time in a week he has written to ABTA on the issue. ABTA has not yet replied to the first letter and also declined to comment when contacted by TravelMole.

Pirie's latest letter was spurred by announcements this morning by the Competition & Markets Authority threatening legal action against companies who flout rules over refunds.

In one announcement, the CMA singled out holiday accommodation, weddings and childcare, saying the actions of firms in these sectors were of particular concern.

But in another general notice it reminded companies across all sectors of their obligations to customers and referred specifically to package holidays.

The announcement said: "Consumers can normally be offered credits, vouchers, re-booking or re- scheduling as an alternative to a refund, but they should not be misled or pressured into doing so, and a refund should still be an option that is just as clearly and easily available. Any restrictions that apply to credits, vouchers, re- booking or re-scheduling, such as the period in which credits must be used or services re-booked, must also be fair and made clear to consumers."

With regard to timing, the CMA said it accepts that during the crisis it may take businesses longer than normal to process refunds.

But, referring directly to package holidays, it added: "The timeframes for providing refunds should be made clear to consumers and refunds should still be given within a reasonable time (and, where there are statutory deadlines for payment - like those which apply to package holidays - businesses should take those into account)."

Pirie said ABTA and the wider industry needs to take heed of the warning.

"The clear statement from the Competition & Markets Authority this morning underlines the need for travel companies, including ABTA members, to follow the law and if they chose to organise packages they must offer customers refunds within 14 days of cancelling their holidays," said Pirie, the boss of VIVID Travel.

"I really hope ABTA now accept that they need to move position. Sadly though, they have shown they put their members ahead of the customers of their members, which will have grave repercussions for ABTA going forwards. They broke trust with the customer.

"In any case, today ABTA members need updated and clear advice from their trade association: do not risk fines of up to 10 per cent of sales and follow the law. You cannot ignore the CMA.

"We urge ABTA once again to reconsider their position on this crucial issue."




 

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