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Refund farce at Virgin, Loveholidays and Ryanair

Written by: Emma Lunn
A survey has revealed a stark divide in the way different travel firms have treated customers over Covid-related refunds.

The survey found Virgin, Loveholidays and Ryanair ranked worst out of the major brands, with smaller players Alpharooms, Jetline and Teletext Holidays also performing badly.

MSE ran the survey between 30 June and 6 July to find out how airlines and holiday companies have dealt with refunds for trips customers couldn’t go on due to the coronavirus.

The survey had more than 77,000 responses and aimed to find out how people felt about their ‘refund experience’, by asking them to rate it as ‘great’, ‘OK’ or ‘poor’, and whether they actually got one.

The worst travel companies for refunds

Ryanair  scored the worst of the major brands at a net score of -89% (worked out as the 1% who rated it ‘great’ minus the 90% who deemed it ‘poor’). It was joined at the bottom of the table of big players by Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays on -88% and Loveholidays on -81%.

These three firms were also among the worst in refunding people at all, with 4% or fewer of their customers saying they’d had a refund to date.

The majority of Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair customers also said they’d been waiting more than two months for a refund since first asking.

Some smaller players fared even worse. Of firms that received at least 100 responses, travel agent Alpharooms came out bottom with a net score of -99%, followed by Jetline (-97%) and Teletext Holidays (-96%).

The best travel companies for refunds

At the other end of the scale, Travel Counsellors managed an impressive net score of +84%. It was closely followed by Trailfinders (+81%) and both Jet2 brands (+79%, +77%), all of which have shown a big improvement since the last time MSE did this survey, in May.

Martin Lewis, MSE founder, says: “This refund farce has now gone on too long. The pandemic has been a torrid time for millions, who have faced huge financial shocks. Having thousands of pounds tied up on what was once a dream, has turned into a nightmare. It’s left people in distress and some will have seen their mental health impacted.

“It is time for regulators and politicians to take action. Even now, after months, less than a third of people in our mammoth survey have received the full (usually) legally required refunds, and it simply isn’t good enough. We will be passing a dossier on this to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport.”

A study by Which? in April found some airlines and package travel providers were refusing to provide refunds, in a breach of their legal obligations to their customers. Others were providing vouchers or credit notes – which could be worthless if holiday firms run into financial trouble.

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