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Thomas Cook commits to 14-day refunds

Written by: Emma Lunn
The relaunched travel agent promises quick refunds and only sells holidays to quarantine-free destinations.

Thomas Cook has committed to paying refunds for cancelled holidays within 14 days following negotiations with Which?

It originally told Which? that while it was aiming for 14-day refunds, as set out by The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, it ‘cannot guarantee it in cases of large cancellations.’

But after discussions with Which? and the launch of its customer services team Thomas Cook has now confirmed that it will always refund customers whose holidays are cancelled within 14 days.

Chinese conglomerate Fosun bought the Thomas Cook brand after it fell into administration in September 2019 after last minute negotiations to save the company failed.

It relaunched Thomas Cook as an online-only brand earlier this month.

The new company has just 50 staff, compared with 21,000 on its payroll shortly before its collapse. Most of its senior management team, including chief executive Alan French, are former Thomas Cook employees.

Alan French, CEO of Thomas Cook, says: “Following our launch, and the successful delivery of our policy on only selling holidays to destinations that are on the government’s travel corridor list, we have been able to test the speed of our contact centre team to change and cancel holidays where government advice has changed. In light of that, we are now confident that we will be able to provide cash refunds to customers within 14 days of their holiday being cancelled.

“We know that customers want to go on holiday not to have to get a refund and so if the government advice changes for a destination, we will contact customers at least two weeks before their departure to help them find an alternative date or location. If we are unable to find something that suits the customer we will organise a full refund for them within 14 days.”

Which? is encouraging customers to only book holidays with companies committed to paying refunds in 14 days. Many customers have been left waiting for months for refunds for cancelled package holidays caused by coronavirus.

Thomas Cook’s relaunch comes at a time when the travel industry is in chaos.

Travel firms are generally against the government’s strategy of quarantining travellers returning from countries where coronavirus rates are rising.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has called upon the government to support the travel sector, after estimating that more than 90,000 jobs have already been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

At the moment, Thomas Cook is only selling holidays to countries where there is no requirement for Brits to quarantine on return to the UK.

If a country comes off the travel corridor list or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises not to travel there, Thomas Cook will allow you to move your package holiday to a new destination or date free of charge.

Customers who refuse this option can opt for a refund.

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