The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is threatening to take Teletext Holidays to court unless the company takes urgent action to improve how it handles package holiday refunds.
On 26 May 2021, the CMA announced that Truly Holdings, parent company of Teletext Holidays and Alpharooms.com, signed undertakings committing to address failures to refund package holiday customers for holidays cancelled during the pandemic.
The CMA said Truly Holdings agreed to a repayment schedule that ensured affected customers still owed refunds would get their money back. It said customers with the longest-standing claims would be repaid first.
Customers whose package holidays were cancelled on or before 31 July 2020 would be refunded by 30 June 2021; customers with bookings cancelled between 1 August 2020 and 31 October 2020 would be refunded by 31 July 2021; and customers with bookings cancelled between 1 November 2020 and 24 May 2021 (inclusive) would be refunded by 31 August 2021.
The CMA said Truly Holdings has paid £7.2 million of the £7.8 million owed to package holiday customers, but almost £600,000 in refunds remains outstanding.
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said it was ‘unacceptable’ that package holiday customers are still not receiving refunds within the timeframe they are legally entitled to.
“While we are pleased that many consumers have now received the refunds they were due because of our intervention, we are clear that Truly Holdings must comply with the law. Unless it urgently takes steps to address the failures we have identified, we will take court action.
“Although the CMA does not currently have powers to impose fines for this, this is the kind of issue that could be resolved at pace and met with fines if the CMA receives the consumer powers that the Government is currently consulting on.”
The CMA said while Truly Holdings has paid back a ‘significant number’ of customers within this two-week period, ‘too many have been left waiting longer for the refunds due to them’ and not enough had been done to repay customers who were already owed refunds at the time the undertakings were given.
The CMA has written to notify Truly Holdings that it will take court action unless it takes ‘immediate steps’ to rectify the situation and ensure that customers who are entitled to a refund are repaid in the timeframe specified by law.
In a statement, Teletext Holidays said: “As a result of the impact of Covid-19 on travel, Truly Holdings was forced to cancel many of our customers’ package holidays. In line with our commitment to the CMA to refund all package holiday customers in the UK whose bookings were cancelled as a result of Covid-19, we agreed to use reasonable endeavours to pay £7.79 million in refunds to 6,431 customers before 31 August 2021.
“To date, we have refunded £7.2 million to more than 5,790 customers. This represents 94% of the amount due a refund under the Package Travel Regulations and more than 92% of customers.
“The remaining customers have not been refunded because they have not provided us with their bank details. They have all been contacted repeatedly by email and telephone so that their bank details can be obtained and the refund paid. We have also published a Covid-19 Refunds page on our website with a web form and an email address for customers to contact us. Unfortunately, these customers have not responded to our contact.
“We have engaged in a constructive dialogue with the CMA as to how best to engage with those customers who have, to date, failed to provide us with their bank details. We will vigorously pursue any strategy agreed with the CMA. We would like to assure our customers that, once the necessary details are received, the refunds will be paid.”
Teletext Holidays said anyone who is due a refund should contact [email protected] with their booking reference number.