Playing fair with holidaymakers

By | Category: Travel rumblings
cartoon of angry suitcase

Having admitted they owe passengers money, why don’t the two companies pay up? © Dan Sperrin

News arriving at Just about Travel suggests that two of our very biggest tour operators are delaying payments to customers that are owed compensation due to delayed or cancelled flights. Both have admitted the money is due to the claimants.

Guidelines say that once an operator has agreed that the claim is legitimate then payment is made. In some cases we hear that maybe as many as a couple of thousand people are owed monies which should have been paid almost two months ago! In all some £700,000 is owing to people just at the time when some will be booking their summer holidays.

This isn’t new. Claims agencies have said in the past that some companies are slow to pay so what does the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, say. It acknowledges that some companies might need time to assess a claim and pay but gives no guidance on when payment might be expected.

If a customer complains about an airline and hasn’t heard within eight weeks then the CAA will investigate once it has received the documentation from a customer. It says it needs a week to check the claim is legitimate and then, if it is, the operator/airline has four weeks to reply. (This may be extended to six if the case is complicated.) Then the CAA wants up to five weeks before a final resolution making the complaint process about 3 months in all. But that surely only applies if the operator/airline hasn’t accepted the complaint?

In this case they have and yet they still drag the feet in coughing up monies.

Should you complain to ABTA? It says its alternative dispute resolution system can take up to fifty days to reach a conclusion. That’s a long time. (ABTA says it could be shorter.) It is free and, if you don’t accept the conclusions, you can still go to court. But, once again, that assumes the problem needs investigating. This doesn’t. To repeat myself, the two companies concerned have accepted that they must pay compensation.

What remedy do customers have other than court action?

If I were one of the thousands I would be wondering why I wasn’t being paid my entitlement. It can’t be because the two companies concerned are going bust because the city swirls with rumours and there are none. Is it that the companies are tight-fisted or have cash flow issues since at other times of the year they have been paying out?

If I were the companies concerned I would be a little worried that claimants might vote with their feet whilst they await the money and use a different holiday company or airline this year.


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