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Published on Monday, November 23, 2020

Lords debate hears 'agents who withhold refunds shouldn't get Govt support'

Tory peer Lord Moynihan has criticised travel companies that are holding back on refunding customers, accusing them of using the money as 'interest-free loans'.

During a House of Lords debate on travel and travel agents, Lord Moynihan disclosed an interest, saying he was one of the many who'd had his holiday cancelled because of the pandemic.

He asked Lord Callanan, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Minister: "Does my learned friend agree that it's unacceptable that some travel agents should still be holding back on refunding customers and using customer payments as interest free loans to their businesses without customer consent?

"Should not the ending of such practices be a conditional precedent of eligibility for government support schemes as well as future certification as fit and proper travel agents?"

Lord Callanan replied: "Companies do have a legal obligation to ensure that they treat their customers fairly and that they pay refunds when they are due and where disagreements exist we do encourage customers and businesses to seek to find a solution that is mutually acceptable."

The House of Lords was debating the effect of coronavirus on the travel industry.

Lord Callanan said he understood the industry was going through a very difficult time, but said the government has already put in place a 'strong package' of support that the industry can benefit from.

Ahead of the debate, ABTA Director of Public Affairs Luke Petherbridge said the association had briefed Members of the House of Lords that 'the operating model of travel agents has added an extra hardship - they are basically running on empty - with the money they've earnt in commission being refunded when holidays are cancelled, and the drop in bookings meaning there is little opportunity to generate new revenue'.


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