Holiday Extras backtracks on cancellation refunds – it now WILL give many cash back
Airport parking website Holiday Extras has reversed its decision to issue vouchers rather than refunds to those who were forced to cancel their bookings as a result of travel disruption caused by coronavirus. It now says anyone with a 'flexible' booking – plus some with 'non-flexible' bookings – CAN cancel and opt for a refund if they want one, minus a cancellation fee.
Last month we reported on complaints from hundreds of angry customers who hadn't had expected refunds from Holiday Extras, for airport parking, hotel stays or other travel add-ons, which the site also sells. The company invoked a 'force majeure' clause in its terms and conditions which it said allowed it to refuse refunds and instead send vouchers.
A Facebook group set up by customers to update each other on their attempts to recoup cash attracted more than 500 members, and the company went on to score poorly in our travel firm cancellation refund survey.
Now Holiday Extras says all customers with flexible bookings who have cancelled can choose a cash refund instead of a voucher, regardless of when the cancellation happened – and some with non-flexible bookings may also be able to get refunds. The U-turn came as UK holiday firms Hoseasons and Cottages.com reversed their coronavirus refunds policy last week, while caravan site operator Parkdean also changed tack and offered customers a package of measures including 50% credit on 2021 fees.
For full help on how to get a refund for a cancelled holiday, plus much more, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.
How has Holiday Extras changed its refunds policy?
When we reported on this last month, Holiday Extras said customers who'd booked airport parking, transfers or hotel stays in April or May and cancelled after 17 March would get a voucher worth the price paid. Crucially, it said this would apply even if the original booking was flexible and so would have usually allowed customers to get a full refund minus a cancellation fee.
However, the firm now says many who have cancelled bookings will be able to claim a cash refund:
- If you have a flexible booking for any date, this can be cancelled up until 11.59pm the day before it's due to start and you will be automatically issued a voucher worth the full price of the booking. But you can now swap this for a cash refund by filling in Holiday Extras' online refund request form.
Cash refunds will be for the full price of the booking minus a £10 cancellation fee (and any elements of the booking that you agreed were non-refundable at the time). You'll have been warned about a cancellation fee when booking – the amount may have varied depending on the booking type, but should have been similar, eg, typically £10.50 for parking-only bookings.
If you paid extra for a cancellation waiver, you WON'T have a cancellation fee deducted (though you won't get the money you originally paid for the waiver back of course). It's worth noting you can no longer purchase cancellation waivers with new bookings.
- If you have a non-flexible booking for up until the end of June 2020, this can be cancelled online up to 11.59pm the day before and again a voucher will be issued. Whether you'll be able to get a refund instead of a voucher depends on the booking type – Holiday Extras says non-flexible airport parking bookings and stays at two regional airport hotels won't be eligible for a refund, but other types of bookings, eg, airport transfers, will be. Again, to apply, use the online refund request form.
- If you have a non-flexible booking for July 2020 onwards, Holiday Extras says if you cancel at the moment you WON'T currently be issued a voucher or a refund – though it also says you should check back on its refund page later in June to check its latest advice on this.
What if I've already requested a refund from Holiday Extras?
If you've already cancelled your booking and asked for a cash refund instead of a voucher, Holiday Extras says you don't need to do anything at the moment. It's working through a backlog of requests and replying to customers, and has so far cleared about 40%.
However, to be sure that your request's been logged, you may want to fill in its refund form anyway – and definitely do that if you cancelled your booking on or before 25 March, as Holiday Extras says it's now processed refund requests made up until that date.
I've already been sent a voucher. Can I get a refund instead?
If you've already been sent a voucher, you can still ask to swap this for a refund – so long as your original booking was flexible and you haven't yet spent it. Fill in the online form and Holiday Extras will get in touch by email.
If you were sent a voucher and have already spent it because you believed that was your only option, Holiday Extras says you can still cancel the booking and get a new voucher which you can then swap for a refund – though to do this the booking must be flexible and you must cancel by 11.59pm the day before it's due to start.
What does Holiday Extras say?
Matthew Pack, Holiday Extras CEO, told us: "We 'vouchered' all cancellations to start with and asked customers to sit tight as it was by far the quickest and easiest way for us to handle the volume of requests and all the different supplier agreements.
"We have now worked our way through most issues and agreements and are quickly processing refunds for customers that do not plan to use vouchers in the future. I would like to thank our customers again for their patience during this challenging time for all."
A statement on Holiday Extras' website reads: "As a gesture of goodwill, we are now contacting those customers that have requested a cash alternative to vouchers from flexible (and many non-flexible) bookings, in cancellation-date order, with the option to take a refund in cash (subject to any fees that may apply)."