The government has confirmed Refund Credit Notes are an acceptable alternative to cash refunds for cancelled holidays “and will be financially protected” despite making no formal announcement.
The confirmation by the Department for Business (BEIS) appears in a ‘Business Companion Coronavirus Bulletin’ on travel, issued jointly by the department and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) on May 7.
This acknowledges the Package Travel Regulations “still apply” and says “a full refund or rebooking (if Abta or Atol-protected) should be offered”. But it notes “the strict application of legislation may not be appropriate” and states “a credit note will be financially protected”.
It also notes Competition and Markets Authority advice that “credits, rebooking or rescheduling may be offered as an alternative to a refund” although “a refund should still be an option that is clearly and easily available.
“Any restrictions that apply, such as the period in which credits must be used, must be fair and made clear to consumers.”
The bulletin carries the logos of BEIS and the CTSI and advises businesses to follow Abta’s guidance.
The bulletin also acknowledges “there is pressure from the travel sector to relax the current 14-day refund rule” and notes “conversations are ongoing” but suggests any change would require legislation “which could take time”.
It advises travel firms: “Appeal to customers for patience while you do everything you can… Deal with the most imminent travel plans first.”
On the payment of balances, the bulletin advises: “You should not seek payment for a service you know you’ll be unable to provide.
“But where there’s a reasonable expectation that travel plans will happen, customers should continue to make payments.”