TUI customers who have been waiting months for a refund on their cancelled trips are to be paid out by the end of September.
The travel company has promised to make the payments by the end of the month, after thousands of holidaymakers complained to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
More than 17,500 complaints
Consumer law states that airlines and travel package providers must issue a refund to customers in the event their trip is cancelled, with this money expected to be refunded within 14 days.
However, several companies have struggled to return cash to customers amid the ongoing pandemic, which has seen many travel firms fall into debt.
In July, the CMA received more than 17,500 complaints from customers experiencing difficulty in getting their money back, or any information on refunds at all from holiday firms.
More than 100 package holiday companies were contacted by the CMA to remind them of their obligation under consumer law to grant a full cash refund “promptly and without undue delay”.
The CMA said that TUI engaged constructively throughout its investigation and said the vast majority of customers had already received their refunds, or rebooked another holiday.
Any customers who have outstanding refund requests for a holiday that was cancelled due to coronavirus will now be paid by 30 September 2020.
Automatic travel vouchers
During the height of the pandemic, the CMA revealed that four out of five customer complaints were in relation to cancelled holidays and trips, with the majority of these relating to travel firms automatically offering vouchers instead of a cash refund.
However, the watchdog said it is important that customers are made aware they are entitled to a cash refund as an alternative, and this should be issued promptly.
Customers who have already accepted a credit note should be contacted via email from TUI informing them that they can swap it for a cash refund, which will be paid within 14 days.
TUI will now also be expected to regularly report to the CMA over the next year to update on the repayments.
These commitments apply to all of Tui UK’s different businesses that offer package holidays, including First Choice, First Choice Holidays, Marella Cruises, Crystal Ski, Crystal, Tui Scene, Tui Lakes & Mountains and Skytours.