Lastminute.com to refund £7m to thousands of holidaymakers for coronavirus-cancelled trips
Over 9,000 Lastminute.com holidaymakers will finally receive refunds for package trips that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, after intervention from the competition watchdog.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it received hundreds of complaints from unhappy customers. By law, if your package holiday is cancelled you should be refunded within 14 days.
Following CMA action, Lastminute.com has now agreed to pay refunds "as soon as possible" to customers whose package holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic between 17 March and 2 December this year.
There are over 9,000 customers currently waiting for refunds worth a total of £7 million. Lastminute.com must now pay at least half of these refunds by 16 December 2020, and all of them must be paid by 31 January 2021 at the latest. It will need to report its progress to the CMA.
In addition, Lastminute.com has agreed that if it cancels further package holidays on or after Thursday 3 December, it will pay out refunds within 14 days.
See our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for information on getting refunds for cancelled package holidays and more.
What are my rights if my package holiday is cancelled?
If your package holiday is cancelled, you're entitled to a full refund under the Package Travel Regulations.
This applies if a package holiday contract is cancelled either by the provider itself, or by the holidaymaker if the performance of the package or the customer's journey to the package's destination would be significantly affected by circumstances, such as coronavirus.
You have the right to a full cash refund "without undue delay" and within 14 days of the contract being cancelled – though many firms have struggled to meet this deadline during the pandemic, and we've encouraged consumers to show forbearance where they can.
Holidays abroad are currently banned across most of the UK due to regional lockdown rules.
What does the watchdog say?
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.
"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."
We've asked Lastminute.com to comment, and will update this story when we hear back.
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