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Virgin refunds are to be issued imminently as Virgin Holidays formally commits to repaying customers. This follows intervention by the CMA which was investigating the travel brand after numerous complaints from holidaymakers facing huge delays in refunds after their trips were cancelled due to COVID-19. “Even when customers were informed by Virgin Holidays that they would receive a refund, many had to wait for an unreasonably long time, with some being told they would have to wait 120 days to receive their money back,” said the government body in a statement today.
“Since March 1 2020, the company has received 53,000 refund requests.”
The CMA has now secured “formal commitments” from Virgin Holidays – known as “undertakings.”
These ensure all Virgin customers receive their money without undue delay and by the following dates:
– holidays cancelled before September 1, 2020, will be repaid by October 30, 2020
– holidays cancelled from September 1 to October 31, 2020, will be repaid by November 20, 2020
Virgin Holidays risks being taken to court if it does not repay customers by these dates.
The tour operator will also ensure those who are entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled on or after November 1, 2020, will be paid within 14 days.
These undertakings apply to all Virgin Holidays businesses that offer package holidays, including Virgin Holidays Cruises.
A Virgin Holidays spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We welcome recognition from the CMA that COVID-19 has resulted in extraordinary pressure being placed on package holiday businesses, including Virgin Holidays.
“We are pleased to confirm that an outstanding 1,300 refunds with a value of £4.2million will be processed by the end of October 23, as planned and communicated to our customers.
“Since March, the impact of COVID-19 and subsequent global travel restrictions has led to a huge volume of holiday cancellations. The unprecedented volume of refund requests we have received, combined with constraints on our teams and systems during the pandemic, created significant challenges in the processing of refunds.
“Throughout the crisis, we have sought to make improvements wherever possible, including increased processing capability and expanded refund teams.
“We have gradually reduced refund timeframes and are now 98 percent through the refund queue, with a remaining 1,300 bookings to be processed on Friday, October 23, in line with our plan to do this by the end of October.”
The spokesperson continued: “At every step of the way we have monitored refunds progress carefully against our commitments and will return Virgin Holidays refunds in the normal timeframe of 14 days in November.
“Our focus now is on rebuilding trust with our customers, recognising that it has regrettably taken much longer than normal to process their refunds. We thank them sincerely for their patience throughout.”
Rory Boland, Travel Editor at consumer company Which?, commented: “This is a significant breakthrough for Virgin Holidays customers, who will be relieved that there are now clear expectations about when they will get their money back.
“The regulator is right to intervene to ensure firms comply with the law on refunds, and shouldn’t hesitate to crack down further on any other firms that are still forcing customers to accept refund credit notes or delaying refunds.
“While progress is being made with travel companies, flight refunds are a different matter, as airlines have ignored warnings from the CAA. If trust in the industry is to be restored, consumers need a strong aviation regulator with real powers to hold airlines to account.”
To ensure that Virgin Holidays adheres to its commitments, the company must provide the CMA with regular reports on the progress of its repayments.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive at the CMA, said: “We are continuing to investigate package holidays in relation to the coronavirus crisis.
“Should we find that any business is not complying with consumer protection law, we won’t hesitate to take action.”
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