Budget airline’s tactics have led John Galligan Travel to stop selling its flights

Michael O’Leary appeared on Irish national radio on Monday stating emphatically that everyone who wanted a refund from Ryanair had already received it.

When asked by the presenter if those (many) people online who were claiming not to have received refunds were not telling the truth, he said ‘correct’.

This is nothing new, of course, as he is merely restating what he said on BBC radio a few months ago.

On that occasion, he was pressed a bit harder by the presenter and became quite aggressive and had a good old fashioned rant at her.

However, his claims on Monday incensed enough Irish people, that the full prime time Irish radio show Liveline was taken up that lunchtime on the subject of these mysterious Ryanair refunds.

More:Row over travel agents’ role as Ryanair refund claims snowball

Numerous direct customers, and a string of travel agents, called in to say that they had not received refunds. Indeed, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) had earlier put out a press release to say that €20 million of refunds were still due to the clients of their travel agent members. Most of a second radio show, the following day, was taken up with the same subject and it became clear that Mr O’Leary had a different reality than those calling the station.

The facts are that there are millions owed to the clients of travel agents, and Ryanair still has that money. Ryanair claims everyone has been refunded*. What to do? Well, we all know how aggressive Ryanair can be, and they have gone into full battle mode here.

Our own website (John Galligan Travel) was scraped by Ryanair this week in a bid to dig-up some dirt on us. The dirt? Our fees. That’s it. That is the ammo they intend using to besmirch the names of travel agents.

We charge fees, we publish them, and we advise clients of them before we close a sale. But getting sucked into a battle over our fees is to fall into Ryanair’s trap of misdirection.

The issue raised was whether all clients have been refunded. They haven’t.

We should follow the money. Who has it? Whose money is it? Why won’t they give it back? Travel agents have been battling for a year to extract it from Ryanair, but the latter has just plain refused to pony up. Any refunds requested by our clients have been paid to them immediately, except where the supplier has failed to refund us. The only supplier still with refunds outstanding to us is Ryanair.

There is a bigger picture here. I believe the travel agents’ representatives, licensing authorities and individual travel agents ourselves have all been far too quiet in allowing scurrilous allegations by this bully to go unchallenged.

To suggest, as Ryanair has, that every licensed Irish travel agent is dishonest, untrustworthy and scam artists, is downright scandalous.

Ryanair seem to be getting free passage on this one. These are Trumpian slags, designed to trash an industry’s reputation. I go back to the refund issue. Who has the money? Attempting to destroy travel agents’ reputation is nothing more than a distraction from the core issue.

Ryanair can say what they like. My customers won’t listen to them because they know my reputation and the effort I have put in over the last year to get refunds back for them.

Ryanair, in contrast, have made it as difficult as possible to extract a refund from them. Whether it be links that don’t work in e-mails, vouchers you didn’t ask for, interminable forms they want, “live” chats that take a day to get to talk to anyone on, or just the main tactic – ignoring you – clients know who is trustworthy, and in this regard Ryanair’s reputation speaks for itself. So let them throw all the mud they want. I just think they shouldn’t get away with it.

Regarding Ryanair refunds for bookings made through agents – I have a list of clients who own that money but have been denied it because of how they booked.

Ryanair was once the disrupter. It created a new way. Unfortunately, a quite nasty way, but it made a lot of money by it. Now it is the mainstream establishment. The biggest bully in the yard.

It is sad to see Ryanair reduced to slagging off travel agents to cover its own shoddy practices. We had already determined that its standards were way below anything we could recommend to our customers, so we have blacklisted them as a supplier and will not be selling their service again.

In the meantime, despite Mr O’Leary’s assertions, we just want our clients’ money back.

*Ryanair claims everyone who has booked direct, and requested a refund, has been refunded.