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Refunds and cancellations - who have been the good guys?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Pejoli wrote:
I raised a section 75 on my Amex BA card against Mark Warner, after giving up on them ever getting a refund. All looked good for a few weeks, until I noticed at the weekend the charge had been reinstated. I got their response back to American Express through the post today - MW are saying (abridging to save my typing):

1. Facts about my hol.
2. Our booking terms and conditions are governed by the Package Travel Regs 2018
3. Where we provide a booking as a tour op, the travel regs and our T&Cs apply
4.Where we are unable to provide the holiday for reasons of force Majeure such as covid 19 and travel has been banned by governments and/or FCO, our T&Cs take effect. Clause 8 confirms we do not accept liability or pay comp. where we are prevented from providing the holiday contract for reasons of F.M.
5. we always advise travel insurance, and it should cover situations such as this.

Therefore we are not in breach of any contractual obligation to <me> nor in breach of the Package travel regs given they are now in a state of review and consideration as to how they should respond to the covid outbreak

... go to small claims court, but our view is it'll be dismissed ... not appropriate to deal with matter via section 75 ... off you f**k ...

Gordon Spence
Head of customer service

(may have over-paraphrased in there somewhere ...)

Checking clause 8 it has the following wording:
8. Force Majeure
Except where otherwise expressly stated in these Booking
Conditions, we regret we cannot accept liability or pay
compensation where the performance or prompt performance
of our obligations under our contract with you is prevented
or affected by or you otherwise suffer any damage, loss or
expense of any nature as a result of ’force majeure’

So .... next steps ? I've reopened the dispute with American Express, and have to discuss with them over the phone. Not sure if I'm going to have to argue the intricacies of Force Majeure (which I'm barely familiar with save these threads) to some random call centre rep. Any suggestions ?


If it was a package you are entitled to a full refund. You should have an RCN (refund credit note) from MW. This will have a cash value and a backstop date for refund (probs January 2021). That date is the latest that you can have a refund and you should get it sooner. The alternative is your insurance?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Presumably anyone who makes an insurance claim will on payout then subrogate their refund rights to the insurer? Anyone been asked to do this?


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Fri 12-06-20 15:46; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Snowfinders wrote:
Pejoli wrote:
I raised a section 75 on my Amex BA card against Mark Warner, after giving up on them ever getting a refund. All looked good for a few weeks, until I noticed at the weekend the charge had been reinstated. I got their response back to American Express through the post today - MW are saying (abridging to save my typing):

1. Facts about my hol.
2. Our booking terms and conditions are governed by the Package Travel Regs 2018
3. Where we provide a booking as a tour op, the travel regs and our T&Cs apply
4.Where we are unable to provide the holiday for reasons of force Majeure such as covid 19 and travel has been banned by governments and/or FCO, our T&Cs take effect. Clause 8 confirms we do not accept liability or pay comp. where we are prevented from providing the holiday contract for reasons of F.M.
5. we always advise travel insurance, and it should cover situations such as this.

Therefore we are not in breach of any contractual obligation to <me> nor in breach of the Package travel regs given they are now in a state of review and consideration as to how they should respond to the covid outbreak

... go to small claims court, but our view is it'll be dismissed ... not appropriate to deal with matter via section 75 ... off you f**k ...

Gordon Spence
Head of customer service

(may have over-paraphrased in there somewhere ...)

Checking clause 8 it has the following wording:
8. Force Majeure
Except where otherwise expressly stated in these Booking
Conditions, we regret we cannot accept liability or pay
compensation where the performance or prompt performance
of our obligations under our contract with you is prevented
or affected by or you otherwise suffer any damage, loss or
expense of any nature as a result of ’force majeure’

So .... next steps ? I've reopened the dispute with American Express, and have to discuss with them over the phone. Not sure if I'm going to have to argue the intricacies of Force Majeure (which I'm barely familiar with save these threads) to some random call centre rep. Any suggestions ?


If it was a package you are entitled to a full refund. You should have an RCN (refund credit note) from MW. This will have a cash value and a backstop date for refund (probs January 2021). That date is the latest that you can have a refund and you should get it sooner. The alternative is your insurance?


Yes you are entitled to a full refund (note: NOT compensation). Google "do the 2018 travel arrangements apply to covid 19 cancellation" and you'll get numerous hits. This one is worth a read. https://www.crownofficechambers.com/2020/05/06/package-holiday-cancellations-covid19/

Start a small claims action, they won't turn up to contest because according to everything I've read they are wrong
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snowdave wrote:
@CaravanSkier, officially, an acquirer (Ryanair's bank) has 30 days to respond to a chargeback once the issuer (your card company) presents it. Acquirers usually try and inform the merchant very quickly (same day) and tend to give merchants 14 days to provide them a response (that's within this 30 day window, giving the merchant 14 days of it allows the issuer a bit of time to check and process the paperwork).

However, what can then happen is that your issuer doesn't agree with the response and goes back to the acquirer to continue the dispute ("Re-present the chargeback"); this could happen behind the scenes without you being notified; this can take your issuer up to 30 days to "Re-present". Then the acquirer has to decide (more usually, ask the merchant) if it wants to dispute the "re-presentment" and go to arbitration - not sure how long this is.

So, in theory, you could have a clear answer in 30 days if the merchant/acquirer fails to respond to the original chargeback, or it could be 60 days (if they do a second loop) or ? if they go to arbitration.

I doubt Ryanair will dispute the chargeback - if its going to refund you anyway, there's no point disputing the chargeback just to do the refund. What it might do is refund you through the normal process, then dispute the chargeback on the grounds of "refund already made" which is valid, but will have to prove the refund.

Edited to add - those are the Visa timings (which I'm familiar with because I have a Visa card so looked up the latest rules for my chargeback) - Mastercard and Amex are different.



Thank you, thats very helpful.
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@CaravanSkier, It was directly from Ryanair, as far as I can tell.
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@NickYoung, OK, thank you.
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Alpine Elements have sunk even further on the list -

Having previously said that refunds would be on or before 31st Jan 2021, the latest email states that i can APPLY for a refund on/after the 31st Jan 2021.

No idea how long the refund process could then take. !!!

Cowboys.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
DJL wrote:
Presumably anyone who makes an insurance claim will on payout then subrogate their refund rights to the insurer? Anyone been asked to do this?


Subrogation is usually part of the standard declaration on a claim form. We may not remember it but anyone who claims will have signed for it.

Quote:
DECLARATION
I declare that all information, particulars, and documents submitted in relation to this claim are true and correct to the best of my knowledge. In the event of a third party being liable for loss / damage all rights in this matter are subrogated to XXXXXX on settlement of the claim. I understand that the information provided in this claim will be made available to other insurers for underwriting, claims handling and fraud prevention purposes.
By signing this declaration I acknowledge and authorise the Designated Claimant to act on my behalf and authorise the sharing of my personal details with the designated claimant.
I have read and understand the declaration above - ALL claimants must sign.
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Snowfinders wrote:
1gunsalute wrote:
I may end up having to accept a Refund Credit Voucher for my 2020 holiday that didn't happen. I've heard that one problem with a voucher is that it isn't protected if the company then goes bust (ATOL/ABTA protection only applies to holidays not to vouchers). But does anyone know what happens if I use the voucher as deposit to book a holiday for 2021 - would my deposit then be protected?


It isn't a voucher, or shouldn't be, it's a Refund Credit Note (RCN) which must have a cash in date (a backstop date) usually 31st Jan 2021. This has a cash value and it's protected by ABTA/ATOL.


ABTA may like to say that an RCN is ATOL protected but the CAA / ATOL haven't confirmed it is have they? Which amongst others have been asking for clarification on it.
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@CaravanSkier, Actually, just received a letter from Santander saying they have credited the refund to my account, pending enquiries, so it was the bank, not Ryanair!
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@NickYoung, OK, thanks for the update.
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Terminal Neige, in Flaine was spot on, no questions asked refund, offered me 50€ to roll in to next year but you never know how theses things hit business so took the refund and a little more on the exchange rate Smile
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BlackNRed wrote:
Snowfinders wrote:
1gunsalute wrote:
I may end up having to accept a Refund Credit Voucher for my 2020 holiday that didn't happen. I've heard that one problem with a voucher is that it isn't protected if the company then goes bust (ATOL/ABTA protection only applies to holidays not to vouchers). But does anyone know what happens if I use the voucher as deposit to book a holiday for 2021 - would my deposit then be protected?


It isn't a voucher, or shouldn't be, it's a Refund Credit Note (RCN) which must have a cash in date (a backstop date) usually 31st Jan 2021. This has a cash value and it's protected by ABTA/ATOL.


ABTA may like to say that an RCN is ATOL protected but the CAA / ATOL haven't confirmed it is have they? Which amongst others have been asking for clarification on it.


Yes I take your point on that and you are correct in the CAA's silence over this, however, the debt is undeniable (in the case of air package holidays) and as the end user has received neither the services nor a refund then the funds are protected under the ATOL scheme whether or not an RCN is issued.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Snowfinders wrote:
the debt is undeniable


I think what plenty of people (including me) have discovered is that plenty of players in the travel industry are happy to deny their debts!

Out of interest @Snowfinders - what percentage of the operators you deal with have provided a) full refunds, and b) RCNs to all their customers?
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snowdave wrote:
Snowfinders wrote:
the debt is undeniable


I think what plenty of people (including me) have discovered is that plenty of players in the travel industry are happy to deny their debts!

Out of interest @Snowfinders - what percentage of the operators you deal with have provided a) full refunds, and b) RCNs to all their customers?


I am in daily communication with all of those that we deal with that have still to refund and every one of them has acknowledged their responsibility to refund in full if governance is the PTRs. I would say that 90% have offered RCNs and 70% have refunded in full so far and I am now being told that two major ski tour operators are starting to refund.

I am in communication with a couple of smaller chalet providers (who offer say 10-20 catered chalets) and they pay their rents both incrementally and in advance of the season end. One of them pays in September, November, and then January. It's hard for them. They have to pay upfront for so much and insurance does not exist to cover them. Under the frustration of contract argument they can easily demonstrate that they have lost 80% of funds received.

I have seen 5 chalet providers so far go out of business; all decent high end companies. Many tour operators have shed their committed bed stock by between 40-60%. If the accommodation owners are not being more flexible with their cancellation and payment terms the properties are not being contracted on. Many of the property owners (not all, granted) are the super rich that got lucky and many of them (not all, granted) don't have huge commercial empathy so it is a delicate task in gently turning their heads to face the economic reality of where we are. Other ops are no longer offering flights owing to the risk factor; if the resort is open but UK FCO advises against all but essential travel they are totally done for.

In essence, from my perspective, the travel industry is being asked to underwrite these possibilities and the risk-reward ratio is now as such that no commercially astute businessman would enter what is a sunset industry......but it's what we love, in it's in our blood and our hearts.

Airlines have gone and routes are far less. In the good old days (not environmentally, granted) we had flights from Oxford, Norwich, Aberdeen, Isle of Man, Jersey, Exeter, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Southampton, Southend, Bristol, etc - all of these have either gone or are at significant risk of ceasing or drastic schedule reductions. So flight seats are fewer and accommodation options are less or very different. Subsequently, choice is less and prices are higher. Bookings are likely to be later and I think the last minute deal will no longer be an option as demand will peak in the month or so prior to departure given the uncertainty. Of course, I may be wrong. I do think skiing is once again a past time for the wealthy or the very intrepidly canny.

Despite all of this, your money is actually safest with a package ATOL bonded T.O. though. Yes, I appreciate that many still haven't had refunds but the fact is that they are protected and you will get them back. All cases are different but for many of us, myself included, we had spent that money on a holiday so if we don't immediately need those funds why not roll it over to next year, sit back and relax that your holiday is all paid for? I have had some clients that booked a last minute package deal for March this year and they have rolled it over to March next year - they paid £650 pp for a catered chalet hotel in St Anton including flights transfers taxes and chalet board with wine. Now that holiday is retailing at £1179.00 pp currently.

I just think if we can all spread the skiers' love and smile we can get through this together. Bon ski all.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Snowfinders - thanks for the perspective.

Will you continue to do business (or advise your clients to do business) with those operators that have not refunded or are trying to use frustration/force majeure to transfer the impact of non-performance onto the end customer?

I do wonder how long it will be before any of these cases reach court. Commercial entity vs retail customer trying to argue an arcane legal point (frustration) very rarely ends well for the commercial entity. Even in commercial law with skilled parties on both sides it's almost impossible to make a MAC clause stick.

Any operator trying to rely on those clauses may find itself out of business as soon as the first one loses a legal claim. Then any customers booked for next year have had it; their money ends up being used to settle the legal case, and when it's their turn to bring one, the coffers are empty and the company has been wound up.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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But alternatively ... anyone who could have rolled their holiday over to next year, but instead insisted on a refund, will look a bit silly if the company is still in business but the same holiday then costs twice as much Embarassed
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Don’t see that, if companies increase their cost next year due to a shortfall in last years revenue then I wouldn’t book with said company! to many people/companies find away to squeezer cash out of peopleFor no good reason other than headlines, not only that there has been plenty of stimulus across industries with a lot of abuse of the system already.
We have a place in the Balearics, some people have cancelled, they have their money back in full with and open door for when they wish to rebook without an increase in cost...
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@Snowfinders, Of course, I may be wrong. I do think skiing is once again a past time for the wealthy or the very intrepidly canny.

I think the wealthy will still fly, but the "intrepid" will surely head for the channel crossings and drive? Myself and 3 mates are looking at our cheapest trip for a while next year by using the tunnel. I think the chalet type holiday has had it's day for your average punter, but there is still a way to go on a keenly priced ski holiday self-catered.
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@dunc999, A bit of a generalisation. Flying shorthaul is in no way luxurious unless you travel by private jet. Hotels are not necessarily more luxurious than self catering. There are some very luxurious self catering places these days with decent pools and spas etc.

I would say that Eurostar ski train premium class is probably the most luxurious way to travel but self drive with eurotunnel flexi plus is enjoyable too if you have a car that is comfortable for long journeys. The latter is our favourite option irrespective of price as we have our own equipment and it is a hassle taking skis etc on flights.

I agree with your view that there will be less demand for chalet holidays unless people are in a group big enough to have a chalet to themselves.
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@ecureuil, I don't feel silly if I walk into a casino and come out with all my money. You can put it all on red if you want...

Basic economics... there is oversupply (and it's fixed, unless the resorts demolish all those apartments, hotels, ski lifts etc.) so if demand falls as @Snowfinders suggests, DIY price comes down a lot. That natural arbitrage will make it very hard for operators to put their prices up, because instead of going to a chalet, I could rent one direct and eat out every night.

There's some edge case scenarios - I happily flipped an Easter 2020 BA flight into a Feb 2021 flight on the basis I think BA is good for its money, and the saving on a Feb flight was so huge, but that's very different from giving a desperate near-bankrupt operator a loan, which is what you're effectively proposing.
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@snowdave, Had you booked an apartment in France directly this March I doubt you would have got your money back as I think the apartment provider would have had 18 months to provide a refund. So you would have been loaning money to them rather than a UK TO who might have given you a better option.
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@snowymum, Sadly I'm not even loaning money to my UK TO, it has categorically refused any refund, RCN or similar.
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@snowymum, I agree with you on the short haul point!! I am lucky that I do have a comfortable company car, which means I only have to pay for fuel in France (fill up to the brim in Folkestone!!!) so that helps keep the costs down.

But I have seen a couple of mentions on this thread and others saying things like skiing will revert to be being a pastime for the wealthy and I don't see it. If you really want to go skiing there will still be ways of doing it for a reasonable cost - I won't use the term cheap - it's never cheap!!!

We are very much testing the water in January with a different "boys" trip - get ourselves there, standalone accommodation, quieter resort, limited apres etc. to see how things have changed. It will cost us about £400 each for the week plus food.

On the chalet thing, good point. Those I ski with have convinced their families to try it for the first time, so if January goes well we may well look for a 16-18 person chalet for Easter trip if there are any keen deals about come the time!!

Anyway, sorry taken it off topic!!
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snowdave wrote:
@snowymum, Sadly I'm not even loaning money to my UK TO, it has categorically refused any refund, RCN or similar.


I'm really sorry to hear that. I have not followed this thread in its entirety so I'm sorry I didn't realise what a bad experience you have had.
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@dunc999, I agree with you that people will still be keen to go skiing. Some people might give next season a miss (due to job uncertainty, fear of covid etc) but there will possibly be others who will want to go on a second ski holiday to make up for a lack of skiing this year.

As we normally book through a self drive tour operator mainly offering self catered properties (Peak Retreats) we have not thought about changing accommodation/transport arrangements for next season. Although I did consciously book a resort which is a bit off the beaten track and does not have any enclosed lifts.

Sorry that I have also taken the thread off topic!
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@snowymum, thanks, fortunately, my credit card company appears prepared to fight my corner, so we'll see how that evolves.

My frustration is that I had 2 trips booked - one with the (unnamed) company that has basically taken the money and run off (this is a "good guys" thread so I won't name it).

The other was an even smaller company that was based in Sweden and never shut down (there was no lockdown in Sweden), so technically had no obligation to refund. However, the MD got in touch with me and said "we'll go bust if we try and refund you, so how about we roll 80% of your booking value to next year, guarantee this year's price, and you write off 20%" which struck me as a very pragmatic option that I was happy to go with.
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snowdave wrote:
@snowymum, thanks, fortunately, my credit card company appears prepared to fight my corner, so we'll see how that evolves.

My frustration is that I had 2 trips booked - one with the (unnamed) company that has basically taken the money and run off (this is a "good guys" thread so I won't name it).

Personally, I'd like a "bad guys" thread so I can avoid them next year, but that may well hit libel law somewhere along the way. But, I'll be looking at reviews very carefully next year before I book with anyone else but Crystal, who were quite exceptional in my own case.

Make sure you leave appropriate feedback with regard to the (unnamed) company on Trip Advisor or similar.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Top of my list of Good Guys are Bens Bus. They initiated and provided a swift refund even though it wasn't in their T&Cs. For this they have earned my loyalty forever!

Alpine Guides also great. Despite being a small company with a lot to lose, there was an instant offer of a refund (or the option of a carry over). I actually chose the latter as they were so good about it and I wanted to support their business.

Similarly Snoworks Ski Courses. Refund offered from the start, and swiftly paid for those that wanted it.

My Bad Guys list starts with Easyjet - complete run-around/hide-and-seek to get my money back on the flight they cancelled.
Norwegian Airlines were just meh rather than bad. They didn't cancel flights despite the fact it was impossible to actually travel; passing the buck to the customers' insurance.
The other (Chalet company) is still in the pipeline, but has the potential to be top of pile in the Bad list. Could be some time...

Thanks for all the useful posts on this thread - it's really helpful in navigating through the minefield, and giving food for thought about who and how to go about booking stuff for the future.
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MikeM wrote:
snowdave wrote:
@snowymum, thanks, fortunately, my credit card company appears prepared to fight my corner, so we'll see how that evolves.

My frustration is that I had 2 trips booked - one with the (unnamed) company that has basically taken the money and run off (this is a "good guys" thread so I won't name it).

Personally, I'd like a "bad guys" thread so I can avoid them next year, but that may well hit libel law somewhere along the way. But, I'll be looking at reviews very carefully next year before I book with anyone else but Crystal, who were quite exceptional in my own case.

Make sure you leave appropriate feedback with regard to the (unnamed) company on Trip Advisor or similar.


I did exactly this on my "bad guys" website on their Trustpilot feed on there - then also on their Facebook page and they called me and asked me if I'd take it down!! I said I would if they refunded or allowed me to reschedule, but no dice!!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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snowdave wrote:
@Snowfinders - thanks for the perspective.

Will you continue to do business (or advise your clients to do business) with those operators that have not refunded or are trying to use frustration/force majeure to transfer the impact of non-performance onto the end customer?

I do wonder how long it will be before any of these cases reach court. Commercial entity vs retail customer trying to argue an arcane legal point (frustration) very rarely ends well for the commercial entity. Even in commercial law with skilled parties on both sides it's almost impossible to make a MAC clause stick.

Any operator trying to rely on those clauses may find itself out of business as soon as the first one loses a legal claim. Then any customers booked for next year have had it; their money ends up being used to settle the legal case, and when it's their turn to bring one, the coffers are empty and the company has been wound up.


To be honest out of the 150 odd bookings where Snowfinders acted as retail agents on behalf of ATOL holders under PTRs we have refunded in full most of them and the remaining few are all in the pipeline for refunds (bar two operators) so yes we will continue to do business with them. No one TO has refused to pay out and all have acknowledged their debt. It was an unprecedented situation and a steep learning curve for all concerned. As with the banks, if we all went to our banks today to withdraw all of our funds every bank would collapse. so I am empathetic to the TOs plight.

With regards to those mooting frustration of contract none of these are TOs; they are either accommodation owners/providers and transfer companies. as each case is different it really does depend on the circumstances but rest assured we have a list of those that we will not be using. Then we have airlines that still haven't paid us where we have paid the clients back. These are huge organisations and yes we will use them as we can't do without them.
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@Snowfinders, Thanks.

Interesting to note you still have a lot of Ski Amis properties on your site.
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snowdave wrote:
@Snowfinders, Thanks.

Interesting to note you still have a lot of Ski Amis properties on your site.


We haven't had any issues with them over refunds. Do you know something that we don't?
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@Snowfinders, it's a "good guys" thread so there's nothing I can say about them here...

However, my definition of a "bad guy" would include a company that cancelled a trip and categorically refused any kind of refund whatsoever, telling me it was "Force Majeure", even tho' it's own Ts and Cs say Force Majeure = full refund. Furthermore, a "bad guy" would have done that to multiple other people that I was aware of (at least 4 bookings). A "bad guy" might also try and claim that a package booking wasn't a package because the mandatory ski pass that had to be purchased as part of the "not a package" wasn't paid for at the time of booking, when it wasn't possible to pay for it because it wasn't actually available for sale at that point.

A "good guy" might have rolled the booking to the following year, but then they'd get named on here as a "good guy".
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snowdave wrote:
@Snowfinders, it's a "good guys" thread so there's nothing I can say about them here...

However, my definition of a "bad guy" would include a company that cancelled a trip and categorically refused any kind of refund whatsoever, telling me it was "Force Majeure", even tho' it's own Ts and Cs say Force Majeure = full refund. Furthermore, a "bad guy" would have done that to multiple other people that I was aware of (at least 4 bookings). A "bad guy" might also try and claim that a package booking wasn't a package because the mandatory ski pass that had to be purchased as part of the "not a package" wasn't paid for at the time of booking, when it wasn't possible to pay for it because it wasn't actually available for sale at that point.

A "good guy" might have rolled the booking to the following year, but then they'd get named on here as a "good guy".


Interesting.
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Good refund experiences for me from East Midlands Trains, Premier Inn, Stansted Express and BA as well as a couple of non-ski specialist tour operators all of whom I would happily rebook services from and intend to do so.

Interestingly, Ryanair emailed today to say that they have provided the refund they promised me on the 24th March before deciding they were turning it into a voucher on the 24th April! I guess 3 months is better than never...
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Took a lot of emailing backards and forwards, including to state the issued RCN was not accepted, but fair play in the end; Skiworld refunded a friends family Easter holiday in the last couple of days. I know they got a mention early in the thread from a couple of people chasing similar
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toyah807 wrote:
Took a lot of emailing backards and forwards, including to state the issued RCN was not accepted, but fair play in the end; Skiworld refunded a friends family Easter holiday in the last couple of days. I know they got a mention early in the thread from a couple of people chasing similar


Which country and date were you due to travel?
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@Snowfinders, it wasnt me but France during Easter, second week i think.
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thank you.
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