Comparison website holidaymakers face problems over refunds and hidden fees

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Which? said its poll of 4,900 members suggested people were better off booking a package deal through a tour operator or going direct to an airline or accommodation provider. Flight booking sites fared particularly badly, with some proving impossible to contact about cancellations, and charging admin fees on refunds. Opodo got the lowest overall score at 41 per cent and just two stars out of five for customer service.

Lastminute.com and Gotogate also scored poorly, at 46 and 45 per cent.

Netflights received the highest score at 65 per cent but still only got three stars for customer service. The firm said refunds “normally” take 45 days to process but wait times are longer because of coronavirus.

Passengers are entitled to refunds within seven days under EU law.

Accommodation booking sites were rated more favourably. Airbnb came first, with five stars for customer service. Its overall score was 75 per cent.

It was followed by Booking.com (71 per cent) and Vrbo (69), which was recently rebranded from HomeAway.

Lastminute.com scored just 55 per cent and mustered three stars across all categories.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Booking sites have been seen as a hassle-free way to find the best deal but our survey highlights serious problems, from dodgy refund policies and unwelcome admin fees to nonexistent customer service.

“This year has shown us that nothing can be guaranteed when it comes to booking a holiday, so it’s more important than ever to ensure the company can be trusted.

“The best way is to book a package, hotel or flight directly, and only with a reputable provider.”

Opodo said: “The number of responses to the Which? survey from Opodo customers (93) is very limited.

“This is not reflective of the 17 million customers we have worldwide.We have refunded over one million tickets and 100 per cent of package holidays.”

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