The travel booking website Lastminute.com has broken the promise it made to the regulator to repay all outstanding refunds to holidaymakers, a Which? investigation has revealed.
After months of breaking the law on cancelled holiday refunds, the online travel agent was investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December. By then, its customers were owed more than £7m in refunds. Lastminute.com then promised the regulator it would refund all package holidays that were cancelled on or before 2 December 2020 by the end of January 2021.
But despite this commitment, Which?, the consumer magazine, has found evidence some customers still had not received refunds by the January deadline, with several receiving only partial reimbursements – often, for hotel stays, but not flights.
“The CMA was right to intervene to demand action from the online travel agent, but after failing some of its customers again, tougher measures need to be taken,” said Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel. “The CMA should uncover how many customers were not refunded in time and take action.”
Under the package travel and linked travel arrangements regulations 2018, if a package holiday is cancelled by the provider, the customer is entitled to a full refund within 14 days. A package holiday is defined as a combination of at least two types of travel booked together with one provider.
A spokesperson for Lastminute.com said the refund process has been “very complex and difficult” due to the pandemic and frequent changes in travel advice rules. “We’ve been working hard to get the money back through the system and into our customer’s pockets as quickly as possible.”
A CMA spokesperson said Lastminute.com must now report to the regulator how it is complying with the commitments it signed up to and the deadlines agreed: “Should it become clear that they have breached these undertakings we will consider further action.”