Hays Travel is reviewing whether to keep the Freedom Direct name, and has already scaled back marketing spend because of damage caused to the brand by its recent failure.

Hays Travel bought the intellectual property rights of Freedom Direct Holidays, including its customer database, bookings, web addresses and URLs, a week after the online agency and tour operator collapsed on April 16.

But Hays Travel managing director John Hays admitted the brand name had been “badly hit” by the confusion among consumers trying to claim their money back. He said no decision had yet been taken on whether to keep the brand name in place.

He said: “We have not made a definitive decision. We are finding the brand is more damaged than we hoped by the lack of clarity [over ATOL claims]. We are scaling back our spend on marketing the name because of this.”

In a further revelation, Hays admitted the Freedom Direct acquisition had been “difficult” to handle, with considerable pressure on the group’s customer services team because of consumers calling up for help with existing bookings. Most holidaymakers have now been referred to the Civil Aviation Authority and ABTA, or rebooked, he said.

He said: “It’s fair to say we have found it difficult. If it had been clear cut, then we could have taken a more active role [rather than just referring clients on]. There is a fair bit of confusion and it has put pressure on the customer services team because clients want to tell them their story.

“It’s certainly a good example of the confusion that this lack of clarity can cause, and it’s up to the regulatory authorities to make sure clients are okay.”