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Banks slated over approach to coronavirus refund requests

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Banks have been criticised for their “inconsistent” and “confusing" approach when refunding customers for coronavirus cancellations.

People who have reached a stalemate with travel companies and other businesses asking them to accept credit notes or rebooking rather than a refund should be able to get their money back by making a claim through their bank.

However, consumer group Which? said customers were having claims turned down.

There are two ways customers can get a refund through their bank. The first is through chargeback, which covers all card payments and reverses a transaction if a customer is not able to resolve a dispute with a business for a variety of reasons.

The second is Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which is a legal protection for credit card users. It means customers can get their money back if something goes wrong on purchases over £100.

Both Mastercard and Visa have said customers can pursue the chargeback route if they are offered a voucher or the option to rebook, but banks told Which? that claims would need to be handled on a case by case basis. The same applied to Section 75.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “While it is a very difficult time for businesses, the coronavirus outbreak has also put people’s finances under considerable pressure, and they deserve to get their money back if they want a refund for a cancelled event or trip, rather than a voucher or the option to rebook.

“However, there is clearly confusion about the circumstances which allow banks to help their customers achieve this. There needs to be greater clarity and consistency about claiming through banks, and the industry should ensure that all bank customers have a fair chance of getting their money back.”

Sally Curnick, 51, from Essex had booked a £2,200 family ski trip with Sunweb Holidays to visit her daughter.

She was assured that she would be fully refunded if resorts closed, but the travel company said it can only offer her a credit note.

Sally isn’t in a position to rebook the trip and having split the cost on two cards she asked Halifax (part of Lloyds Banking Group) and Metro Bank to help. Both banks told her chargeback isn’t possible because Sunweb has offered a voucher.

This contradicts the Lloyds Banking Group claim that it can pursue a disputed transaction claim under their chargeback process.

Metro Bank has now said it will review Sunweb’s written T&Cs before outlining next steps. Lloyds is also reassessing Sally’s request.

Sally said: “With regards to the banks and a chargeback, both banks initially said no and have, we feel, not been very forthcoming with a resolution. We have made several attempts to contact the banks and have come to a dead end.”

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