Lastminute.com threatened with legal action if it fails to pay delayed refunds in seven days
Holiday firm Lastminute.com faces legal action from the competition watchdog unless it repays over £1 million to customers it had promised refunds to after their package holidays were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. These refunds must now be paid within the next seven days.
Update 26 February: The CMA says Lastminute.com has now paid back the £1m to customers it had promised refunds to.
In December 2020, Lastminute.com committed, after intervention from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to refund £7 million to thousands of holidaymakers for coronavirus-cancelled trips. It said it would pay all outstanding refunds for package holidays that were cancelled on or before 2 December 2020 by the end of January 2021.
It also said that if it cancelled further package holidays on or after Thursday 3 December 2020, it would pay out refunds within 14 days.
But the CMA says the firm still owes over £1 million to 2,600 customers who were due refunds by the end of January, and that it has failed to meet its ongoing commitment to refund all customers entitled to a refund within 14 days of their package holiday being cancelled on or after 3 December 2020. Consumer group Which? had reported Lastminute.com to the CMA earlier this week after hearing from customers still waiting on refunds.
In addition, the CMA adds that Lastminute.com wrongly told some package holiday customers to go directly to their airline to get the cost of their flight back, which is a breach of its obligations under Package Travel Regulations. See our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for more info on how to get a holiday refund.
Lastminute.com must pay refunds within seven days to avoid court action
Lastminute.com now faces court action if it does not repay outstanding refunds within seven days. To avoid court action, the company must also ensure that customers who book their package holidays from now on will receive a full refund within 14 days where they are legally entitled to their money back following the cancellation of their package holiday.
The holiday firm says it's paid out more than £40 million in refunds to almost 50,000 customers. But it blames airline Ryanair and a third lockdown for the delay to some refunds.
Andrea Bertoli, managing director of Lastminute.com, said: "Despite all our efforts and commitment, we did not meet the CMA undertaking's deadline for this small proportion of customers because of the impact of the unforeseen third lockdown and Ryanair disrupting the refund process... We sincerely apologise to all customers still waiting for their package holiday refunds."
A Ryanair spokesperson said: "We have done everything we can to assist online travel agency customers who have been disrupted by these anti-consumer practices and we call on the Competition and Markets Authority to ensure Lastminute.com and other similar third party travel websites provide correct customer contact and payment details at the time of booking”.