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Published on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Lastminute promises to clear refunds backlog after CMA investigation



Lastminute.com has promised to refund more than 9,000 cancelled packages by the end of January at the latest following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.


The online travel agent admitted that it owes customers more than £7 million and it has given the CMA an undertaking to refund them as soon as possible and by 31 January at the latest.


It has also pledged to refund cancellations on or after 3 December within 14 days.


The CMA investigated lastminute.com after receiving hundreds of complaints from customers who had been waiting months for refunds for holidays cancelled due to the pandemic.


It now says it will pay at least half the outstanding refunds by 16 December and the remainder by the end of January. Lastminute.com said this was the earliest it could provide the refunds.


To ensure that it sticks to its recent commitments, the CMA has insisted lastminute.com provides regular refund updates.


CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: "Online travel agents have a legal responsibility to provide prompt refunds to customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to coronavirus - irrespective of whether the agent received refunds from airlines and accommodation providers.


"Our action today means that customers whose holidays were cancelled by lastminute.com will receive their money back without undue delay.


"The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms following concerns that people are not getting the refunds they're entitled to when bookings can't go ahead because of the pandemic. If we find that businesses are breaching consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action."


The CMA received similar undertakings from TUI UK, Virgin Holidays, Skyes Cottages and Vacation Rentals earlier this year.


Earlier this week consumer champion Which? issued a statement urging holidaymakers to avoid OTAs and book travel direct instead. Travel Editor Rory Boland said a Which?survey had highlighted 'serious problems from dodgy refund policies and unwelcome admin fees to non-existent customer service'.

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