Lastminute.com faces legal action over outstanding refunds
The online travel agent will face legal action unless it repays more than £1m to customers it owes for cancelled package holidays.
Back in December, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that Lastminute.com had signed formal undertakings which committed it to pay out more than £7m to more than 9,000 customers when their holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The company committed to repay at least half of customers by 16 December 2020 and to pay the remaining refunds by no later than 31 January 2021. It signed undertakings on 27 November 2020 and the CMA announced this on 1 December 2020.
However, according to the CMA, Lastminute.com still owes more than £1m to 2,600 customers.
Research by Which? earlier this week revealed that many customers had still not received full refunds from Lastminute.com.
The travel agent has also failed to meet its ongoing commitment to repay all customers entitled to a refund within 14 days of their package holiday being cancelled on or after 3 December 2020.
On top of this, Lastminute.com told some package holiday customers to go directly to their airline to get the cost of their flight back. This is also in breach of its commitments and against its obligations under the Package Travel Regulations.
The CMA has informed Lastminute.com that it will take court action if it does not repay the outstanding refunds within seven days.
To avoid court action, Lastminute.com must also ensure that customers who book their package holidays from now on will receive a full refund within 14 days where they are legally entitled to their money back following the cancellation of their package holiday.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “It is wholly unacceptable that thousands of Lastminute.com customers are still waiting for full refunds for package holidays despite the commitments the company signed with us.
“We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously. If Lastminute.com does not comply with the law and pay people their outstanding refunds quickly, we will take the company to court.”
The CMA sent a letter before action to Lastminute.com on 12 February 2021.
This outlined that the CMA intends to apply to the court for an order under section 217 of the Enterprise Act 2002 requiring Lastminute.com to comply with its obligations under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.