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Coronavirus: Holiday firm reverses no refund policy

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Booking a hotel

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Regulators have had their first major victory in getting holiday lettings firms to offer refunds for holidays cancelled because of coronavirus.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that Vacation Rentals, which operates sites including Hoseasons and Cottages.com, had changed its policy.

It follows complaints about Vacation Rentals and several other companies.

The CMA said several lettings firms would face “further scrutiny”.

The CMA said Vacation Rentals voluntarily changed its policy after originally failing to offer refunds to all customers whose trips were cancelled.

It has now given a formal commitment that customers will have the option of a full refund if a booking has been cancelled because of restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak.

But despite consumer law on refunds being clear, the CMA said other holiday lets firms had not yet agreed to do the same.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “Our Covid-19 Taskforce is working hard to ensure that consumers get what they are entitled to, so it’s good news that Vacation Rentals has agreed to offer people the refunds they are due. We welcome this step and other holiday lets firms must now follow suit.”

He acknowledged that some firms faced financial challenges, “but it’s not right that people are being left hundreds or even thousands of pounds out of pocket – on top of having to sacrifice their holidays.

“Consumer protection law exists for a reason; businesses must observe the law or face the possibility of enforcement action.”

The CMA said that common complaints it had received since the lockdown included companies refusing to provide full refunds at all or offering only vouchers instead of cash refunds.



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