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Published on Thursday, November 12, 2020

Ryanair clashes with Which? as refund row rumbles on






Ryanair and consumer watchdog Which? have become embroiled in a row over refunds following claims made by the airline's boss Michael O'Leary in a radio interview last week that all passsengers who had requested cash refunds for cancellations had been paid.


During a heated exchange, the outspoken CEO told BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Rachel Burden to 'stop rabbiting on about refunds' after she read out several texts from passengers claiming they were still waiting for their money back from Ryanair.


He said several times that every customer who had requested a cash efund for cancellations from March to July had received their money, but Which? said its own research revealed that some customers were still waiting for refunds for flights cancelled months ago.


It said customers requesting refunds were sent vouchers instead. They could then use the vouchers to request a refund, but Which? said vouchers should not be automatically issued since it places the burden on customers to apply twice for the refunds to which they are entitled under EU law.


Which? presented to Ryanair the cases of three customers who said they were still waiting for their money back months after being sent vouchers. They said they had tried to reject the vouchers but they didn't receive their refunds until Which? contacted Ryanair.


Ryanair said the Which? case studies contained 'false and malicious claims' and said the passengers had not asked for their money back.


Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said: "We have had more complaints about Ryanair's handling of refunds than any other airline, with some passengers still struggling to get their money up to six months after their flights were cancelled.
 
"Airlines are facing a serious financial crisis but they are also facing a crisis of trust. Claiming all passengers who have requested a refund have received it when that's not true is hardly going to help matters. Ryanair now risks adding insult to injury by refusing to refund passengers who can not fly this month because of the latest lockdown."


Boland added that the Civil Aviation Authority must be handed new powers so it can meaningfully clamp down on airlines' behaviour.
 
"Major airlines have acted shamefully and without fear of consequences during this pandemic - the government must urgently review the CAA's powers as part of its aviation recovery plan, to ensure airlines do not feel empowered to brazenly break consumer law again in the future," he said.


Ryanair hit back by claiming two of the customers cited by Which? did not request refunds and a third had only done so on October 27 and had been paid.


A spokesperson said: "Ryanair rejects these false and malicious claims made by Which?, which...... completely misdescribes three case studies, which in fact support Ryanair's factually accurate position that customers who have requested refunds, have received them."


However, in its statement Ryanair said all passengers who have requested a refund since its offices reopened on 1June have now received them. This was different to Michael O'Leary's claim on Radio 5 that all passengers who had requested refunds for flights booked in March, April, May, June, July and August had been paid. 


"There is no backlog," the spokesperson added.

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