Major holiday lets firm offers refunds after CMA action

Legal | Leisure & Tourism | South East

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After the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would be focusing on the holiday accommodation sector as part of an investigation into cancellations and refunds, Vacation Rentals voluntarily changed its policy after originally failing to offer refunds to all customers whose trips were cancelled.

It has now given the CMA 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.

Vacation Rentals, which operates popular accommodation sites including Hoseasons and Cottages.com, is one of a number of companies that have been reported to the CMA’s COVID-19 Taskforce, set up to monitor market developments and identify the big problems facing consumers as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown.

Other holiday lets firms, however, have not yet agreed to do the same as Vacation Rentals, and the CMA’s investigation is continuing. Common complaints include companies refusing to provide full refunds at all or offering only vouchers instead of cash refunds. The CMA will continue with its inquiries into the holiday accommodation sector, which may ultimately lead to court action against companies which fail to comply.

The CMA’s COVID-19 Taskforce has so far received around 4,500 reports about UK holiday rental companies, with complaints about Vacation Rentals making up a significant proportion of those reports.

Andrea Coscelli, CEO 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.

“We know the pandemic is presenting businesses with challenges too, 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.”

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