The Civil Aviation’s decision to ask agents repay commission when they pipeline monies taken for Thomas Cook bookings has split opinion among the trade.
Last week, the CAA – which processes Atol claims – extended the deadline for agents to return the money they had taken for the failed operator’s package holidays.
It asked for any commission owed to agents for selling Cook packages to be returned – and offered agents £50 to “cover the associated administrative costs” if they returned the cash to the Air Travel Trust, used to pay for Atol claims, by the extended January 31 deadline.
To claim any commission, agents must contact the Official Receiver, which is handling the liquidation.
A number of agents, all of whom asked not to be named, told Travel Weekly they were disappointed that they would not receive commission as they had completed their role by making bookings.
In particular, they complained the CAA had asked for commission back on bookings where the customer was on holiday at the time of Cook’s collapse.
One homeworker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We’re being penalised despite doing nothing wrong while the CAA repatriated customers who bought seat-only non-Atol protected flights and flew home people who completed their holidays.”
A CAA spokesman explained that in cases where pipeline monies had been paid to Cook in full before the collapse, agents’ commission would be kept – but in any case where the agent was holding the pipeline monies when Cook collapsed, it would request them back along with any commission.
Whether or not pipeline monies had been paid or not was up to individual agency agreements, he added.
Chris Bailey, of Bailey’s Travel in Wellingborough, said he understood the CAA’s request. He added: “I sympathise with those who built their businesses on Thomas Cook sales but as agents we shouldn’t expect to hold on to commission. The customer didn’t receive the product. Where else is the CAA going to get the money from? As agents we bear some responsibility.”
When the extension was announced, CAA head of Atol licensing Michael Budge said: “We are grateful for the co-operation from travel agents over the past weeks. The impact of Thomas Cook’s liquidation is far reaching and we want to ensure that consumers’ refunds are processed efficiently.”