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7 Feb 2021

Lastminute.com breaks promise to refund package holiday customers by 31 January

Lastminute.com website

After months of stalling customers over holiday refunds, Lastminute.com was investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December and it committed to pay outstanding package holiday refunds by the end of January 2021 - but Which? research shows it's failed to do so.

Despite what Lastminute.com promised the regulator, Which? heard from several consumers who were still fighting for their full refunds after the deadline.

The UK's seventh largest travel agent owed more than £7m in refunds for holidays cancelled on or before 2nd December. And although it seems to be paying back customers for the hotel portion of their trips, it still doesn't seem to be paying everyone for flights.

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Travellers selecting and paying for two or more holiday components such as transport and accommodation within a single booking process, are covered under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. By law, Lastminute.com should have refunded consumers with cancelled package holidays within 14 days.

The CMA's intervention further reiterates that Lastminute.com is obliged to refund all money to package holiday customers for both accommodation and flights.

Lastminute.com shortchanged customer until Which? stepped in

Booking on credit card and laptop

Sheryl McLeod told Which? she booked a package holiday for two adults and two children to Barcelona for July 2020 through the online travel agent.

Sheryl told us that in June, an agent from Lastminute.com advised her the flights and hotel were cancelled and there were no alternatives, so the trip would be cancelled and refunded.

Sheryl then heard nothing for months and struggled to get in touch. But in September she was told her 'refund was ready' via email and she could choose how she received this - she chose a cash refund.

For months afterwards Lastminute.com claimed it was 'finalising refund'. Then on 27th January she was sent £932.49, but not the full £1274.68 she was owed.

Sheryl tried to chase this discrepancy over the phone, but she was met with an automated message to log into Lastminute.com to access her booking. But when she logs in, the trip is located in past bookings and there's no mention of the missing money, or anything to help her apply for it.

After we contacted lastminute.com about Sheryl's case, the company got in touch with her and said that the remaining refund would be issued.

Customer told to chase refund from the airline directly
Cancelled flights

Claire Barder is another Lastminute.com customer who told Which? she had been shortchanged. Despite receiving confirmation of a refund for her cancelled package holiday to Barcelona for four adults, which was meant to take place in July 2020, Claire only received a refund of £431.75. She was still owed money from the flight portion of the trip.

Claire was told in an email that her refund's total value was £1,010.23. However Lastminute.com told her that because of Ryanair's policy - the airline she was due to originally fly with - she'd need to fill a form out on their website to apply for this refund.

When we asked Lastminute.com why it hadn't refunded Claire, before giving us a response, the company rang Claire and told her it would process the rest of her refund.

In response to these case studies, a spokesperson for Lastminute.com told us: 'Each customer request is unique, and often requiring a human touch-point and we've been working hard to get the money processed back through the system and into our customers' pockets as quickly as possible. In the cases you have highlighted, we can confirm that the refund has been sent to the customers also for the flight.

'We confirm our full commitment and dedication during the last months in order to refund and support all our customers and meet the deadlines agreed with the Competition and Markets Authority. We have already refunded more than 49,000 customers and completing any open refunds remains our top priority in this unprecedented crisis.'

CMA action

Now that Lastminute.com has broken its commitment to the CMA, we asked the regulator if it would take action against the online travel agent.

It told us: 'CMA action led tolastminute.comcommitting to pay out over £7m to customers waiting for money back. They must now report to us on how they are complying with the commitments they signed up to and the deadlines agreed. Should it become clear that they have breached these undertakings we will consider further action.

If you're still struggling to get your refund from Lastminute.com after chasing the company directly, you could try alternative methods. Find out how to get your money back when a holiday company is ignoring you.