Over 100 package holiday companies have been told to sharpen up their refunds policy for pandemic cancellations.

More than 17,500 complaints have been received by The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) from people whose holidays have been affected by the virus.

In an open letter from The Competition and Markets Authority, firms have been reminded of the 14-day refund rule for cancellations over tickets or journey.

“This has been an unprecedented crisis that put many of them on the brink of collapse,” say Travel firms.

“The regulator recognised the ‘extraordinary pressures’ faced by the sector,” said CMA director Cecilia Parker Aranha.

She added “Although we were sympathetic to the challenges faced in the early days of the pandemic, it is nonetheless important that businesses comply with consumer law”.

“The pressures were continuing and that many companies, with loyal customers, had mutually agreed to a rebooked holiday rather than a refund” said a spokeswoman for Abta, which represents the sector.

She said “Abta had conducted its own investigations of members when customers had been misled.”

Though, she added that holiday travel companies were themselves facing delays from carriers in refunding them the flight element of any holiday.

She said “Many airlines, in particular, have been and continue to be very slow in passing refunds back to package holiday businesses, which means that those package holiday businesses are unable to refund their customers as promptly as they would wish”.

“It is essential, therefore, that effective regulatory action is taken against the airlines that are not currently refunding with seven days, as required under relevant consumer protection legislation.”

Airlines are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority which has been increasing pressure on companies to comply.

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