Online travel agent Lastminute.com could face legal action if it does not repay over £1million owed to customers who had holidays cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on 1 December 2020 that Lastminute.com had signed formal undertakings committing the firm to pay out over £7 million to more than 9,000 customers by the end of January this year.
All customers affected by holiday cancellations due to the pandemic were due to get their money back by 31 January 2021, but Lastminute.com still owes over £1 million to 2,600 customers.
The CMA has now warned Lastminute.com that it will take court action if the company does not repay the outstanding refunds within seven days.
‘We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously’
The watchdog also found that the company has failed to meet its ongoing commitment to repay all customers entitled to a refund within 14 days of their package holiday being cancelled on or after 3 December 2020.
In order to avoid court action, Lastminute.com must also ensure that customers who book package holidays from now on will receive a full refund within 14 days of their holiday being cancelled.
Lastminute.com also told some package holiday customers to go directly to their airline in order to get the cost of their flight back, which is both in breach of its commitments and against its obligations under the Package Travel Regulations.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said that it was “unacceptable” that some customers have still not received their refund and that this is an issue they are taking seriously.
Mr Coscelli said: “It is wholly unacceptable that thousands of Lastminute.com customers are still waiting for full refunds for package holidays despite the commitments the company signed with us.
“We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously. If Lastminute.com does not comply with the law and pay people their outstanding refunds quickly, we will take the company to court.”
The CMA has also previously written to over 100 package holiday firms in order to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law. Virgin Holidays, TUI UK, Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals have all previously made refund commitments in response to this.