Campaign group Right To Refund has submitted a complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority over Abta’s guidance to members during the coronavirus crisis.
The group’s complaint alleged the association “was assuming a position more akin to an industry regulator than a trade association” and called for intervention.
Last week the CMA issued a statement saying it had “concerns” about companies refusing refunds to customers who had been forced to cancel holidays, travel and other plans as a result of the crisis.
On Thursday, the authority announced a task force focused on three areas: holiday accommodation, weddings and private events and nurseries and childcare providers, but not overseas travel.
Campaign leader Kane Pirie said: “Today we have submitted a formal complaint to the CMA with regards to the conduct of Abta, as the association is now openly referring to itself as a quasi-regulator and allowing members to act as if their code of conduct, which is in truth is no more than club rules, overpowers the law.”
He added: “We trust that the CMA will now intervene and as a result Abta will, finally, move to a position that is more balanced and respects the laws of the land. We again urge Abta to reconsider in the interests of both travel companies and customers.”
Pirie has objected to Abta’s guidance to members to issue credit notes to customers while refunds are processed, with expiry dates on the credit notes linked to bonding periods running through to March 2021. Under the Package Travel Regulations, the deadline for refunds is 14 days.
The association has insisted that its code of conduct stipulates that refunds should be paid “without undue delay” if requested and said an expiry date of next March did not mean that refunds could be withheld until that date.
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