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19 Oct 2020

Holidaymakers left £1,781 out of pocket on average by airlines and holiday companies refusing refunds

Travellers denied refunds resort to Section 75 and chargeback to claim back money lost to COVID-19 cancellations

Which? has seen a surge in consumers using its online tool to help make a Section 75 or chargeback claim from their card provider. Just over 32,000 people used the tool to make a claim between March and August this year - a 685% increase from the same period in 2019.

The vast majority of these claims were against travel companies. We asked 1,265 people who made a Section 75 or chargeback claim with our online toolto tell us about their claim. It revealed 78% of claims were made for cancelled or disrupted flights and holidays.

The average travel claim of those surveyed was £1,781, highlighting the extent to which holiday companies and airlines broke the law over refunds.

The next most claimed-for expenses affected by lockdown were missing deliveries and cancelled events.

Travellers forced to use card protections

When you pay by credit or debit card, Section 75 and chargeback can help get your money back if there is a breach of contract.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects credit card payments between £100 and £30,000. Chargeback may protect debit card payments and credit card purchases that are under £100.

Holidaymakers have been falling back on these payment protection schemes to try to secure refunds. Many travel companies refused or endlessly delayed refunds, despite travellers being entitled to their money back if a trip has been cancelled.

Section 75 and chargeback claim success

Positively, however, our survey showed almost half of Section 75 and chargeback claims have been successfully resolved with a full refund.

Only 8% have been rejected, with many being told to claim on their insurance instead. Some claims were refused because there wasn't enough evidence and some were out of scope. Others told us they were eventually refunded directly by the company involved before S75 was actioned.

3% were given partial refunds. The remainder are still waiting for a decision. Processing times have been slower than usual because of the influx of claims combined with staff shortages.

Simple claims, such as missing deliveries, are often resolved in a few weeks in 'normal' times. But we've heard it's recently been taking weeks to get initial responses from banks due to an influx of claims.

Can I claim on my card for a cancelled flight or holiday?

There has been confusion about whether it's possible to claim for travel bookings and other purchases and services affected by COVID-19 disruption that were paid for using a credit or debit card.

For example, in some cases, banks and credit providers have been refusing to pay out if a travel company has offered credit vouchers in place of a refund.

Although the pandemic has identified grey areas, Section 75 and chargeback still stand to protect consumers when there has been a breach of contract. If you don't get something you've paid for, or something doesn't turn out to be what you paid for, you could be covered.

If your holiday or flight has been cancelled by the travel company or airline and they are refusing a refund, you can try to claim back through your credit or debit card.

Banks expect evidence to support your claim, such as receipts and photos. They usually ask to see correspondence between you and the company you have a dispute with to show you've tried to resolve the issue directly without success.

If your claim is rejected by the card provider, you can still challenge this decision by making a complaint to the FOS.

You can use our tool to help you make a claim if you paid using a credit card or a debit card.