Since a consumer watchdog reported that lastminute.com had agreed to repay a total of £ 7 million, more than 9,000 consumers have been offered refunds for cancelled trips.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reported that by Dec. 16 and the remainder by Jan. 31, the firm had agreed to refund at least half of the customers.
Anyone entitled to a refund on or after Thursday for cancellations will be charged within 14 days, the CMA added.
After receiving hundreds of reports that lastminute.com did not grant refunds for trips cancelled due to the pandemic, after suspicions that refunds were being delayed around the sector, the regulator started investigating package tour companies.
“Online travel agencies are required by law to promptly issue refunds to customers whose holidays have been canceled due to the Corona virus, irrespective of whether the company has received refunds from airlines and accommodation providers,” CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said.
“Our action today means that customers whose vacations have been cancelled by lastminute.com will get their money back without undue delay,” he said.
Amid reports that consumers are not getting the refunds they are entitled to when bookings can not go through due to the pandemic, the CMA continues to investigate package holiday providers.
“If we find that companies are breaching consumer protection laws, we will not hesitate to take further action.”
In October, after receiving hundreds of complaints about late payments, the CMA received a promise from Virgin Holidays to compensate all clients “without unreasonable delay”
In July, the regulator also wrote to more than 100 package tour companies to inform them of their consumer law enforcement obligations, and received guarantees of refunds from Tui, Sykes Cottages and Holiday Rentals.
For cancelled journeys, consumers of package tours are legally entitled to a refund within 14 days.
With tour operators facing a cash shortage, however, many individuals whose holiday hopes have been dashed have to wait for a payout for months.