MSE News

Ryanair refunds farce as passengers who requested money are sent vouchers instead

Ryanair refunds farce as passengers who requested money are sent vouchers instead

Furious Ryanair customers – likely numbered in the thousands – have jumped through hoops to apply for cash refunds from the budget airline, only to be sent vouchers... which include details of how to reclaim cash. In response, MoneySavingExpert.com has today made formal complaints to the Civil Aviation Authority and Trading Standards.

Update 28 April 2020: If you're still chasing a refund for a cancelled Ryanair flight, also see our new Ryanair refunds tricks news story.

Ryanair has axed a large number of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic, and under EU law, it's obliged to give anyone who has a flight cancelled the option of a refund.

Yet today, on the back of a tweet by MSE founder Martin Lewis (above), we've received scores of emails and tweets from MoneySavers who say they asked the airline for a refund – and were told they would get one – but have now been sent vouchers instead.

'We waited forever for a refund... then got sent a voucher'

A few of the many replies to Martin's tweet can be seen below:

Some even posted screenshots showing that they'd been told they would get a refund: 

MSE Kit is one of those affected by the issue. He had a flight booked from Krakow in Poland to London Luton which was due to take place on 12 April, but was cancelled last month.

On 25 March, he received an email that said: "If you wish to cancel your reservation and claim a full refund of the unused flight(s), click and enter your booking details. Refunds will be processed within 20 working days back to the form of payment used for the original booking."

Kit did this. On 9 April he received a further email saying there had been a delay to refunds, before getting another email on Monday that included travel vouchers instead. The email said the vouchers "can be used for the purchase of Ryanair flights and other services at any time over the next 12 months".

We've asked the regulator and Trading Standards to investigate

In recent weeks we've seen many flight and holiday companies make people jump through hoops to claim cash not vouchers – for example, by offering vouchers online but insisting customers call for a refund – but it seems Ryanair has gone a step beyond. 

The airline insists that it is giving passengers all of the options set out under EU regulations, including refunds, but it hasn't yet given any explanation for why passengers who'd requested refunds have been sent vouchers instead. It's told passengers who have been sent the vouchers that if they don't want them, they can contact the airline to request a refund instead.

We've contacted regulator the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute letting them know the findings we've outlined in this story and we've urged them to investigate the issue. We'll continue to follow what both bodies do as a result. 

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: "I am urging the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland to take appropriate action to prevent any further consumer confusion or detriment. During these unprecedented times we have seen most businesses going out of their way to be fair to consumers.

"When it comes to flight cancellations, I fully understand consumer frustration. Now more than ever, people may need a refund depending on their varying personal circumstances. For instance, some will have lost their jobs, others may be high risk and are forced to isolate while some may have lost their living as they are self-employed and need their money back for food, essential shopping and to pay their bills.

"With current travel restrictions it is unfair to hold the monies when consumers have no idea when they will be allowed to travel again to redeem them. We would advise anyone affected by this looking for advice to contact the UK European Consumer Centre by email, to eccnet-uk@ec.europa.eu."

I wanted a refund but have been sent a voucher – what can I do?

Under EU regulations, you are due a refund if your flight is cancelled – and Ryanair insists it IS offering this to customers. The problem is how to get one, given those who have specifically asked for cash have been sent vouchers instead.

The email that MSE Kit received containing his vouchers says customers should contact Ryanair if they wish to request a refund rather than take the voucher, so it may be worth doing that – though it may be frustrating if you've already done so. You can contact Ryanair on live chat here.

Ryanair has also been responding to individual passengers on Twitter saying: "If you don't want to accept the voucher option we can put [you] on the refund queue, please DM us with 'booking reference' and include the email address used and passenger names and we'll get you added. Thank you so much!"

What does Ryanair say?

A Ryanair spokesperson said: "For any cancelled flight, Ryanair is giving customers all of the options set out under EU regulations, including refunds."

We've asked Ryanair a series of questions and will update this story when we hear back.