ONLINE travel agent LastMinute is paying back £7million to customers with cancelled holidays following the coronavirus crisis.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating the firm after receiving hundreds of complaints from holidaymakers about Covid-19 cancellation refunds.
More than 9,000 customers whose holidays were cancelled by the website are currently waiting for refunds worth more than £7million.
Many of these will have had to wait more than 14 days, exceeding the repayment window required by law, the CMA said.
Consumer law states that airlines and travel package providers must give customers’ their money back if the firm cancels their trip.
If your holiday is cancelled by your tour operator, the money has to be refunded within 14 days, or seven days if the airline called off your flights.
Following the CMA investigation, LastMinute has promised to pay at least half of the refunds by December 16 and the rest by January 31 the latest.
Holidaymakers entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled by LastMinute on or after December 3 will then be paid within 14 days.
HOAR has contacted LastMinute for comment.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, 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.
“Our action today means that customers whose holidays were cancelled by lastminute.com will receive their money back without undue delay.”
The travel industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis causing delays for customers claiming refunds for cancelled holidays and flights.
Consumers have struggled to reclaim money they are owed amid ever changing travel restrictions over the past nine months.
In July, the CMA had received more than 17,500 complaints about the difficulty in obtaining refunds or information from holiday firms.
In mid-September, Tui promised to refund customers by the end of the month after thousands of holidaymakers complained.
Meanwhile, Virgin Holidays is refunding a whopping £203million to customers with cancelled holidays, as CMA takes action.