Teletext has promised to refund £7m it still owes to customers for cancelled holidays to avoid legal action, but some clients might have to wait until the end of August for their money back.
It has agreed a repayment schedule with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which was threatening to take the online travel agent’s parent company Truly Holdings to court.
Truly also owns Alpharooms, which was also included in the CMA’s investigation.
The CMA said Truly Holdings has agreed a repayment schedule that ensures affected customers still owed refunds will get their money back. It said customers with the longest-standing claims will be repaid first.
Customers whose package holiday bookings were cancelled before 31 July 2020 will be refunded by 30 June 2021; customers with bookings cancelled between 1 August 2020 and 31 October 2020 will be refunded by 31 July 2021; and customers with bookings cancelled between 1 November 2020 and 24 May 2021 (inclusive) will be refunded by 31 August 2021.
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: “There’s no excuse for travel firms to delay refunding customers what they are legally owed, even in these extraordinary times. Companies should be doing the right thing without the threat of court action.
“As a result of our work, customers who have waited many months for their money back from Teletext Holidays and Alpharooms will now receive a full refund.
“With international travel resuming and many people considering long awaited trips abroad, all package holiday firms must give refunds within 14 days where these are due, and should also provide clear cancellation information, so that no one else is unnecessarily put through this ordeal.”
The CMA said it had accepted Truly Holdings commitment to repay all refunds by 31 August after reviewing the company’s financial information and ‘how quickly it can realistically make the repayments’.
“The timeframe that has been agreed balances the challenges experienced by the travel sector as a result of the pandemic with the need to get customers their money back in full as quickly as possible,” said the CMA.
“The company has also committed in its undertakings to refunding in full within 14 days any package holidays it cancels due to the COVID-19 pandemic going forward.”
To ensure that the company adheres to its commitments, it has agreed to provide the CMA with regular reports on the progress of its repayments. If the firm fails to repay customers according to the undertakings, the CMA said it is prepared to take it to court.
In a statement, Teletext said: “We are pleased that a successful conclusion has been reached with the CMA in regards to the processing of refunds for our customers who have had their package holidays cancelled due to COVID-19. Further details of the refund timescale and process that we will be embarking upon will be published on our website by 28 May.”