Car hire agency Atlas Choice has gone into administration, a month after it emerged hundreds of its customers' bookings had been cancelled. If you've booked a car with Atlas Choice or were asked to pay a second time for a rental, here's what to try to get your money back.
The accountancy firm Deloitte today announced it has been appointed administrator of Atlas Choice's parent firm Evershine Travel Ltd, which also trades as Atlasoption, QuantRez and VacAuto.
The firm acted as a worldwide car hire agency, with customers booking a car on its website before collecting it from one of the company's partners, which included Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
In December, MoneySavingExpert.com revealed that Atlas Choice customers had been left carless and stranded at foreign airports after arriving at car rental desks to find their bookings wouldn't be honoured unless they paid again.
Several of the company's partner firms such as Auto Rent have said they've been forced to ask customers to pay a second time because they haven't received payments from Atlas Choice.
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I've booked a car rental through Atlas Choice what should I do?
Check your booking and find out which of Atlas Choice's partners (such as Avis or Europcar) is actually providing your hire car. Then get in touch with that firm ASAP to check whether it will honour your booking, and whether you'll be expected to pay again.
If your booking isn't being honoured, or you're asked to pay again and can't afford to, you may have to consider making alternative travel arrangements.
If your booking still stands but you're asked to pay again for it, double-check whether the rate is the same as what you paid Atlas Choice don't assume it will be.
What if I've lost money?
If you end up out of pocket because your booking isn't being honoured or if you've already lost out on a booking there are things you can do to try to claim the money back:
- Register as a creditor. If you're owed money you can register as an unsecured creditor with Deloitte. To do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org stating when your booking was made, which firm was providing your car, when and where it was to be collected and how much you believe you're owed. However, be warned unsecured creditors are often only able to reclaim pennies in the pound.
- Paid for a booking of more than £100 with a credit card? Also try Section 75. As well as registering with the administrator, it's worth trying to get money back via the way you paid. If you paid on a credit card and the booking cost £100+, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, credit card firms are jointly liable with retailers if something goes wrong such as a firm going bust.
That means you may be able to get a refund from your card provider. You can use our template letter to file a claim see our Section 75 guide for more info.
- Paid with a debit card, or for a booking of less than £100 with a credit card? Try chargeback. If you paid for your booking on a debit card (or on a credit card and it cost less than £100), you can try the chargeback scheme.
Unlike Section 75, this is not a legal requirement; it's a customer service guarantee which means if you don't receive the goods you bought on a card, you may be able to get your money back. But it's worth trying see our Chargeback guide for a full how-to.
What do the administrators say?
In its statement, Deloitte said Atlas Choice's parent company Evershine Travel Ltd has ceased trading but Deloitte is seeking buyers for the intellectual property, business and assets. It's not yet clear what will become of the company's 80 employees and contractors.
Deloitte said it will "make every effort to ensure that members of the public who have hired cars in advance are fully appraised of the situation and their rights and [it] will be reporting to creditors at the earliest opportunity".
If you were left out of pocket by Atlas Choice but have since claimed your money back, let us know.