Holidays may be back on to many parts of the world for UK nationals, but plenty of would-be travellers are still at home waiting for refunds for their ruined plans amid the coronavirus lockdown. Loveholidays is one firm which has seen a number of customer complaints regarding long waiting times, with some Twitter users saying they are having difficulty getting in contact with the holiday provider.
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In light of this, Martin Lewis and the Money Saving Expert team have shared new advice for Britons on how to get in touch with the firm and hopefully reunite with their refund sooner.
According to the MSE team, just four percent of Loveholidays customers who responded to the survey conducted by the financial website said they had been refunded for their cancelled holiday.
Loveholidays disputed this, though said it had only reimbursed 25 percent of affected customers by the beginning of July.
Many travellers have also continued to take to Twitter venting their frustrating at a lack of refund or difficulties communicating with the travel operator.
On July 17, one Twitter user wrote: “Has anyone had a refund from @loveholidays???? My holiday was cancelled in March and they are just ignoring me?”
However, the travel operator is unable to take calls right now.
According to the MSE team: “When we dialled the usual Loveholidays customer service number, we were played an automated message saying that customer service functions had been moved to live chat due to the coronavirus crisis.
“This means live chat is the only way to get in touch, but every time we’ve tried to use it we’ve been shown a message saying that ‘all of our live chat agents are currently busy’.
“Loveholidays says the live chat function goes offline when there are no agents available, and admitted that ‘chat lines are frequently at capacity at the moment’ due to the levels of queries from customers.”
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Express.co.uk has contacted Loveholidays for an update on their refund schedule, and their take on the situation.
While Loveholidays provides a combination of flights and hotels, according to ABTA they are responsible for reimbursing customers.
An ABTA spokesperson spoke to the MSE team, saying “as a tour operator and subject to the refund requirements of the Package Travel Regulations. These require refunds to be made within 14 days.”
So what should Loveholidays customers do to speed up the process?
1. Accept a credit note, as long as you are happy to do so
The Government has recently announced that all credit notes offered in exchange for a cancelled holiday will be covered by them.
This means that customers will get a cash refund should the travel provider go bust before they get a chance to utilise the voucher.
However, this only applies to ATOL-protected holidays, for example, package holidays.
“With many travel firms struggling, as a rule, we always say it’s worth considering whether you’re in a position to show forbearance in a tough time, though we understand that after a lot of hassle you may not feel that way,” adds an MSE expert.
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2) Request a cash refund online
Customers who want to register a cash refund can do so via the “Manage my Booking” portal on Loveholiday’s website.
However, there may still be a wait time associated.
According to MSE: “Loveholidays says it’s working through refund requests in departure date order and prioritising vulnerable customers, who will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
3) Make an official complaint
Under current regulations, refunds should be issued within 14-days, though given the current situation this has been largely impossible for almost all travel providers.
If customers have been waiting an exceptionally long time and are unsatisfied with their service, MSE recommends making an official complaint to the company.
You can do so using the Manage My Booking portal.
Should this not work, you can also file a complaint with the travel trade body ABTA, though MSE adds: “You’ll need to give Loveholidays 28 days to respond to any correspondence before you complain to ABTA, so it’s not a quick fix to get your money back.”
Customers who file complaints may be asked to submit evidence of their correspondence.
4) Request a chargeback or Section 75 claim with your card provider
Holidaymakers who are still waiting on a refund can utilise the chargeback or Section 75 card scheme which work for debit and credit cards.
A chargeback will see a debit or credit card provider attempting to get the money back directly from the travel operator.
Martin previously explained: “It tends to be the quickest way of getting your money back – effectively you’re disputing the transaction as you’ve paid for something you’ve not received.”
However, MSE warns that it has heard reports of Loveholidays denying chargeback claims. Loveholidays told the MSE team it’s “reviewing the appropriate response to chargebacks” and will only dispute chargeback claims “where there are valid grounds to do so”.
Should this happen, customers can take it up with the Financial Ombudsman Service which will adjudicate the case.
A second option is to make a Section 75 claim, valid on credit card transactions over £100.
“With Section 75 you get the stronger legal protection that the card company is jointly liable – though Section 75 is only for credit card payments over £100,” added Martin.
However, this option is less favourable to the card provider as it sees them paying out for the refund.
The MSE team add that in a worst-case scenario, the fight for a refund could be taken to court, though they add that it is “unlikely to be worth the hassle”.
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