After significant criticism from thousands of its own customers and Which?, Tui has finally added an online refund option for customers whose holidays have been cancelled.
Tui customers previously had to phone to claim a cash refund, with many reporting that it was impossible to get through. They will now be able to apply for a cash refund through an online form.
However, Tui is still breaking the law by insisting customers accept a refund credit note, before applying for their cash refund. Holiday companies are allowed to offer refund credit notes to customers alongside but not in place of a cash refund.
Under the Package Travel Regulations customers should also receive their cash refund within 14 days of cancellation. Tui says cash refunds will take up to four weeks from the date of application, although many customers are still waiting for a refund credit note that they need to apply for the cash refund.
The tour operator made the announcement in an apology it emailed to hundreds of thousands of customers saying 'we haven't got it right' over refunds.
It added that it wanted to 'apologise for the frustration you may have felt. I'd like to assure you that we're dedicated to doing everything we can to make things better'.
On the same day Tui announced it was changing its systems for claiming a refund, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would investigate package holiday providers over refunds after being inundated with complaints from consumers.
Specifically, the CMA said it would look at practices that 'make it very difficult for consumers to obtain refunds' as well as companies that 'insist consumers rebook or accept vouchers'.
Ideally, no. The law says you don't have to. But you may have no other option if you want to get your cash.
Tui is issuing refund credit notes automatically to customers. It's also claiming these credit notes are backed by the Atol scheme, That means refund credit notes may not be financially protected if the company subsequently goes bust.
If Tui does issue you with a refund credit note, our advice is to contact them to say you don't accept it and want a cash refund, but also fill in the cash refund form as soon as possible.