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Chris Williams • 4 months ago

Tanzer and ABTA have bet the farm - actually, lots of travel agents' farms - that the EU would suspend the PTRs and allow credit notes. Now that strategy has conspicuously failed, agents are now in the worst of both worlds. Customers who have already paid demanding cash not an e-voucher of dubious legality. Customers not yet booked thinking better leave it until next year to see how this plays out.

I think government won't bail the industry out. The moral hazard of bailing out the shysters as well as the honourable is too great a risk. They will wait for the inevitable insolvencies to arise first to clear out the stables. Then prop up whatever is left, a much reduced industry with more stringent, FCA type safeguards for customer money.

Kane Pirie • 4 months ago

This is a scandal.

What is the benefit for customer in accepting a Refund Credit Note?

Answer: no benefit.

What is the risk for the customer in accepting a Refund Credit Note?

Answer: all their refund money.

Stop The Madness At Least Until ATOL Protection Confirmed By The CAA.

Stop issuing Refund Credit Notes Until ATOL Protection Confirmed By The CAA.

Jimbo • 4 months ago

Accept a credit note = possibility of refund in future.

Force every liquidity-strapped travel company into administration = place a huge number of consumers at the wrong end of a too-long queue, as well as hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

Kane Pirie • 4 months ago

With respect that is missing my point.

Imagine two customers of Doomed Travel Ltd. Doomed has been badly run with massive dividends taken out by greedy owners. In short, it's been stripped of its cash and has no chance of surviving the Covid-19 lockdown without support from its owners which is not forthcoming. Unlike many smaller tour operators Doomed is large / PE drained.

Customer A rejects the Refund Credit Note offered. Customer B accepts. Neither is paid.

Doomed fails to renew its ATOL in September and admits defeat.

Customer A will get his refund - his ATOL certificate is bullet-proof.

Customer B? Well, nobody knows...

Credit Refund Notes = Loan Agreements for the purpose of making the loan from the customer lawful. Sadly, the job was botched and customer's ATOL protection was lost overboard at the same time. Probably. Possibly. BEIS says no. BEIS says maybe. Minister says "it depends". Is this really want you wanted!?

ABTA's greed in wanting more than 6 months for its members is proving to be a total and unmitigated disaster which will see companies that might otherwise have survived now fail.

Chris Williams • 4 months ago

Insolvency means customers get their money back. Yes, six months down the line when the CAA can get enough people into work to process the mountain.

Or customers can accept a credit note, the company still goes bust in six months because no sane punter would ever use that company ever again, and then wait a further six months for the CAA to refund them.

Which would you choose, especially if you are a customer who has just lost your own job or suffered a major drop in income? They ain't going to worry about altruistic twaddle about protecting travel industry jobs or the fact hundreds of thousands more people might be put in their position.

Refund now, and there might be a chance, a small chance that bookings start trickling through. And even from the same people that have just been refunded. Force credit notes, you buy a little extra time but sacrifice the industry in the medium term.

Jimbo • 4 months ago

Refund now with what? The cash isn't there.

Insolvency means HMRC get their money, secured creditors (banks) get their money, and customers (unsecured creditors) can whistle Dixie.

Or you can leave it six months and the vast majority of companies will still be there. Look at the history of travel company failures through past crises eg 2008, no mass failures.

If you're expecting an epidemic every year well ok maybe we might just as well all give up pretty much every aspect of western life beyond basic food production.

manny • 4 months ago

I am with you Jimbo but unfortunately many consumers think travel agents are the real rich of the society; forget banks , oil companies, hedge funds, pharma , etc, the real billionaires are the travel agents selling package holidays for £399pp with a 3% margin hahahaha

Ignorance is impossibile to fight, no matter how hard you try.

I read a survey showing consumers biggest fear is travel companies to go bust BUT at the same time consumers expect travel industry to be running as normal as usual and therefore being able to refund money they don’t have; I find it hilarious

The reality check for these consumers will come when they will take a travel agent to court ..

Chris Williams • 4 months ago

So, some private equity owned company with deeper pockets than any of us can possibly imagine can't get access to either bank borrowings or a shareholder capital injection? Then the industry is screwed and people need to start looking at the delivery driver job ads working for Hermes.

So, what you are saying is either you refund and you become insolvent and go out of business. Or you dont refund get taken to court and then go out of business. Either way, you are stuffed?

ALOS • 4 months ago

Manny, please don't presume we all pay £399pp for our holiday. At present I'm owed just under £6000, last year I spent £9000 with this company. You may be asking why I won't accept an RCN, the reason is this was never in the t & c's and has now been proved they are not backed in law, the original booking does have protection. The company has contacted me 6 times so far and each time they move the goal post, and contradict themselves. At present they want me to wait 13 months from payment to possible refund, they will Discuss refund on 31/3/21. Not pay, discuss. This isnt a small independant they are owned by an international PE. They have lost any sympathy I had with them. I accept that if the company goes down I will possibly have to wait 6 to 9 months for my money back, that would be quicker than if they stay in business. That dosen't make sense to me.

manny • 4 months ago

ALOS, I surely feel sorry for you and for all the consumers who are not getting the refunds. I don't know your specific situation but I imagine you have booked a trip overseas, given the price you have paid. If this is the case, you may have heard/read that all countries except the UK, have issued laws to protect the travel industry and allowed hotels and service providers to offer vouchers instead of cash refunds; this has happened in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.

Now, the UK is an exception and I imagine the reason is because the gov wishes to be seen as siding with consumers and not with travel agents, but in this way they will have to pay the bill when agents go bust and hundreds thousands of people lose their jobs.

The matter for you, as a consumer who is unlawfully being denied a refund, is pretty simply: if service providers in countries in Europe are NOT refunding agents, and airlines are NOT refunding either...how can your agent refund you?

it is really simple math. The world is falling apart but it seems that travel agents are in a safe haven and therefore they must be able to do wonders; this makes no sense to me.

I truly hope you get your refund asap, and I would keep asking for updates every week. I wish you the best of luck

ALOS • 4 months ago

Thank you for the reply. At the start of this I thought, never mind just postpone until things get better. I certainly wasn't upset about not going on holiday this year, health is more important.
Over the last couple of months that has turned into immense frustration, by the way the operator has handled this, including trying in the early stages, to bully me into booking later this year. Now I'm being ignored
I will travel again, when I decide it's safer for me. I'm watching this situation very carefully to identify who I will spend money with in the future.

Kane Pirie • 4 months ago

6 months grace is exactly what we advocated but did not get industry support for.

The idea that the potential losses to the consumer are too great to uphold their normal financial protection regulation is a bit rum. They need it more than ever now.

Many travel companies have refunded as their owners have put more money in. The issue is the larger companies who've in effect paid out profits on bookings they never ran to billionaire owners who now won't put it back.

CyprusLifeInPictures • 4 months ago

And what about PTRs which don't include air travel but do include travel (coach holidays) and accommodation?
Our operator has issued "Holiday Credit Notes" NOT "Refund Credit Notes".
#Shearings coach holidays / Specialist Leisure Group

James K • 4 months ago

Don't accept it, make it clear in writing (email/letter) that you do not agree to any changes in your contract - including replacing refunds with vouchers or credit notes and once again request a cash refund. Then attach all this documentation, including any replies you've got and file a charge back request with your bank (assuming you paid by card). It's important to provide the documentation to prove you made all reasonable effort to sort it out on your own.

CyprusLifeInPictures • 4 months ago

We have done all that 2 months ago..... I contacted my card company on the same day Shearings told me they would keep our money held on our holiday account for 12 months, which is disgusting.
I emailed their Customer Care team also on the same day they phoned to dispute this - that was on 18 March.
On 1 April they sent a Holiday Credit Note, which I duly returned the same day.
A couple of weeks ago Shearings sent another Holiday Credit Note with a slight amendment to the last line to say it is protected by Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH). I returned it again on 5 May.
I also wrote to CMA GovUK.
I have also written directly to Richard Calvert CEO and Jane Atkins MD asking what has happened since the NOI was announced by Sky News on 24 April - surprisingly enough, there has been no response.
We have a facebook group of approx 160 members who are all in the same situation and we feel we are definitely being strung a line.
However, there has been success with a number of members pursuing by CCJs by Default of a defence.
Guess what - no payment has been made.

Jimbo • 4 months ago

Guess why?

The cash isn't there!

Kane Pirie • 4 months ago

TUI Euro 1.8 billion from Germany tax payer. More from UK tax payer. Audley Travel and Love Holidays, both owned by 3i, circa £4.5 billion of assets under management. Virgin Holidays, owned by multibillionaire Richard Branson. Etc etc etc.

That is over £10 billion!

It is not cash that is missing it is respect for the law, respect for customers and an ethical approach to business.

Ash Willcroft • 4 months ago

Are Audley Travel also refusing cash refunds?

Kane Pirie • 4 months ago

With the exception of a few owner-managed tour operators identified by Which? I think pretty much every other company is failing to refund within 14 days.

The tour operators are not completely daft so they don't point blank refuse all cash refunds. There is just a lot of misdirection and faff normally resolved when some serious legal threat emerges and then hey-presto the money is there after all.

As I have said ad nauseam I don't understand it. If you are going to pay then why delay? I think it is larger corporates run by accountants and bankers only looking on the dark side and thinking somehow the way to survive the storm is to burn the brand.

To be fair to the 3i owned companies, they will probably now be in breach of financial covenants with the bank which really puts the Bankers in the driving seat.

CyprusLifeInPictures • 4 months ago

From a company with over $45bn USA backing it....

Jimbo • 4 months ago

"Backing" is meaningless. Cash, cash, cash.

James K • 4 months ago

So in other words the vouchers are not protected as they are not part of any contract between operators and customers - it’s just ABTA’s instrument invented to fight against customer rights.