TUI UK has promised the consumer watchdog that it will refund all customers for holidays cancelled due to coronavirus by the end of the month.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has received thousands of complaints from TUI customers who haven’t received refunds for their cancelled holidays within the 14 days stipulated by the Package Travel Regulations.
However, the CMA said TUI has ‘engaged constructively’ with an investigation launched by its officers and it said the ‘vast majority’ of people have already received their refunds or rebooked during the investigation.
TUI has also promised any outstanding refund requests will be paid by 30 September and it has agreed to contact customers who have unused credit notes to let them know they can convert it to a refund, which will be paid within 14 days.
“The CMA wants to ensure that TUI UK meets its obligation to pay refunds on time in the future. Therefore, TUI UK will report regularly to the CMA over the coming year on the time it has taken to refund customers,” said the CMA.
The commitments apply to all of TUI UK’s brands that sell packages, including First Choice, Marella Cruises, Crystal, TUI Scene, TUI Lakes & Mountains and Skytours.
In a statement, TUI said: “We remain sorry that holiday refunds took longer to process during the height of Covid-19. The volume of cancellations and customer contacts was unprecedented, and at a time when retail stores, contact centres and offices were closed because of the nationwide lockdown.
We worked tirelessly to deliver system improvements in extremely challenging circumstances, making refund times shorter prior to the CMA engagement with the package travel sector. Where due, customer refunds will be made within 14 days, as they were prior to the pandemic. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding.”
The CMA has written to more than100 package holiday businesses to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law and has opened investigations into a number of other tour operators.
“The CMA understands that the pandemic has created extraordinary pressure for travel companies, including TUI UK. However, customers who had their holidays cancelled due to coronavirus must be treated fairly and receive their refunds promptly,” it said.
“It is essential that that all businesses comply with consumer protection law so that people are not being left out of pocket. The CMA published guidance for businesses earlier this year to help them understand their legal obligations.”
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli added: “The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. If we find that businesses are not complying with consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action.”