If you believe you’re owed a refund for a cancelled trip, here’s what to try – though if you’ve already requested a refund and are in dispute, you can skip through the first couple of steps:
1) Consider first if you’re happy with a credit note instead of a cash refund, as some are now Government-backed. With many travel firms struggling, as a rule we always say it’s worth considering whether you’re in a position to show forbearance at a tough time.
If you are willing to consider a refund credit note instead of a full refund, it’s worth noting the Government has said it will protect all those issued between 10 March and 30 September 2020 for ATOL-protected bookings, meaning you WILL get a cash refund if you opt for a refund credit note but the firm were to go bust before you can spend it. See refund credit note protection for full info.
You can try requesting a credit note through the ‘Manage my Booking’ function on both firms’ websites.
2) If you want a refund, request one online first – otherwise, call. It may be easier to try requesting a refund online through the ‘Manage my Booking’ function on each site, to avoid long wait times on the phone.
If you do need to use the phone lines, you can contact On the Beach on 0871 474 3000 and Loveholidays on 01903 258288.
3) Not heard back, or been paid the full refund you’re owed? Make an official complaint. Technically, if you’re owed a refund you should get it within 14 days, though many firms are struggling to meet this at the moment and it may take longer. If you’re unhappy with how your request has been cancelled – or if you’ve only been paid a partial refund and you believe you’re owed it in full – you can submit an official complaint to Love Holidays in the ‘Manage my Booking’ section of its site, or On the Beach via the ‘Manage my Booking’ section of its site.
If you’ve been affected by the partial refund issue following a Foreign Office warning, you could argue here that the firm was signed up to ABTA when you booked with it and therefore morally should still follow ABTA’s guidance.
4) Check if your travel insurer will cover you – especially if a Foreign Office warning is in place. If you’re struggling to get a refund and have travel insurance, it’s worth speaking to your insurer.
Normally insurers insist that if you’re owed a refund by a travel firm, you must go to it for your money back. Yet it’s worth checking, particularly if you’re chasing a refund for a holiday you cancelled due to a Foreign Office warning. You could argue that as the travel firms believe they’re not required to issue a full refund under the Package Travel Regulations, your insurer should cover you.
Of course, whether your insurance will cover you at all in this scenario depends on a number of factors, including what policy you have, when you bought it and when you booked your trip. See I’ve bought travel insurance – am I covered? for more help.
5) Still struggling to get paid or can’t wait any longer for the cash? Submit a chargeback or Section 75 claim – though watch out for clawback. If you’re still struggling to get a refund and paid for your flight or holiday using a debit or credit card, you can also try disputing it using the chargeback scheme. This is where your bank tries to get money back from the firm’s bank, though remember this is a customer service promise rather than a legal requirement.
Bear in mind that even once you’re paid the money, the firm can dispute it with the bank, and the money may later be clawed back – we have seen some reports of this happening recently, particularly with Loveholidays disputing chargeback claims. Loveholidays says it’s “reviewing the appropriate response to chargebacks” and will only dispute chargeback claims “where there are valid grounds to do so”. If this happens, you can fight it – see chargeback clawback for full help.
So while there are no guarantees, and there is a risk of the money being clawed back, if you’ve exhausted other avenues and can’t wait longer, it could be worth a try. Bear in mind you’ll need to make a chargeback claim within 120 days of the scheduled date of your cancelled flight or holiday.
If you paid for a flight or holiday costing over £100 using a credit card, you could also have extra legal protection through Section 75, which makes your card firm equally liable when something goes wrong – and these refunds can’t be clawed back by the holiday firm, as they’re paid for by the card firm.
6) Your absolute last resort would be to go to court – though weigh up carefully if it’s worth it. In some cases with other firms, sending a ‘letter before action’ (essentially a formal note warning you’ll take court action if the problem isn’t resolved) has been enough to spur firms on to refund you more quickly. We’ve seen successes from people using this method to get refunds from other firms.
But we’ve not seen evidence that Loveholidays and On the Beach are reacting to formal notices in the same way, so you may need to weigh up very carefully if you want to follow through with your threat and file a county court claim.
If you really want to do this, you may be able to do it through the small claims route – see more in our Small Claims Court guide. There is a cost of £25 to £300, which is refunded if you win. If you lose, there are no costs against you in the small claims court, but there may be if it goes up to a higher court (you’ll know beforehand though and could drop the case then). And of course, it’s worth considering the hassle factor as well as the potential costs.
Let us know how you’ve got on with chasing a refund at [email protected].