COVID-19 cancellations: package holidays

Competition Markets Authority

September 16
07:04 2020

Update on enforcement action

Undertakings from TUI UK

16 September 2020: TUI UK will ensure that customers receive their refunds by the end of the month for holidays that were cancelled due to coronavirus.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating TUI UK after receiving thousands of complaints from people that they were not receiving refunds for their cancelled holidays within 14 days. Consumer protection law requires refunds within 14 days.

TUI UK has engaged constructively with the CMA throughout the investigation and while the vast majority of people have already received their refunds or rebooked during the CMAs investigation, any outstanding refund requests for people who had their package holiday cancelled as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be paid by 30 September 2020.

Some customers may have accepted Refund Credit Notes. It is important they know they are entitled to a cash refund as an alternative. TUI UK has now agreed to contact customers who have an unused credit note, to let them know they can convert it to a refund, which will be paid within 14 days.

The CMA wants to ensure that TUI UK meets its obligation to pay refunds on time in the future. Therefore, TUI UK will report regularly to the CMA over the coming year on the time it has taken to refund customers.

These commitments apply to all of TUI UKs different businesses that offer package holidays, including First Choice, First Choice Holidays, Marella Cruises, Crystal Ski, Crystal, TUI Scene, TUI Lakes & Mountains and Skytours.

Update on group travel

The CMA has written to certain companies specialising in package holidays for groups to explain its view on when consumers should be offered a refund. As is usual practice, the CMA will not be naming the companies in receipt of these letters.

It follows complaints about companies whose primary business is selling package travel to groups, such as:

  • schools
  • groups such as scouts and guides
  • amateur sports teams
  • university teams or societies
  • voluntary groups
  • social groups

The CMA has noted that, in several cases, businesses are claiming they are exempt from the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) as the organisation that booked the trip is not a Consumer.

The CMA believes that this is generally incorrect. Regulation 2(1) sets out that the Regulations cover any individual who is seeking to conclude a contract, or is entitled to travel on the basis of a contract concluded. Furthermore, Article 12 (4) of the Package Travel Directive envisaged that payments may be made by third parties on behalf of the ultimate traveller.

The CMA takes the view that the PTRs are intended to protect consumers who have booked package holidays and should therefore be protected from losing money.

Investigation launch

Package holidays was named as one of several sectors being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The investigation was launched as a result of intelligence gathered by the CMAs COVID-19 Taskforce, set up to monitor market developments and identify the major problems facing consumers as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown. The CMA has been receiving reports that businesses have not been respecting their customers statutory rights to a refund for package holidays that were cancelled by either party due to certain lockdown restrictions imposed by authorities in the UK and abroad.

The CMA also issued a statement on its views on consumer protection law in relation to cancellations and refunds during the current crisis.

If people have been affected by unfair cancellation terms in the wake of COVID-19, they can report them to the CMA using the CMAs online form.

Read our letter to to all package holiday businesses

Published 10 July 2020
Last updated 16 September 2020 +show all updates
  1. Undertakings from TUI UK published.

  2. The CMA has written to certain companies specialising in package holidays for groups to explain its view on when consumers should be offered a refund.

  3. First published.

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