The journey ends – Malvern Group travel company goes under

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What you need to know when a holiday company goes bust

It was announced today (2 August 2019) that the Malvern Group have ceased trading.

The failed company encompasses a number of holiday brands, including Late Rooms, based in Manchester and Mini Holidays, also known as Super Break, based in York.

Although relatively small compared to the big household travel names, it is thought that 53,000 customers have been or will be affected.

Amazingly Late Rooms was still advertising on Twitter as of 31 July!

However, just 24 hours later it tweeted:

Now that the company is in administration, here’s the Complaining Cow’s advice on what to do next if you have a holiday booked or are currently on holiday with one of the companies in the Malvern Group.

What are your rights if you have a booking with the Malvern Group?

It is slightly complicated because those on Super Break package holidays are protected by the travel association ABTA but gift vouchers and tickets for entertainment and attractions are no longer valid. You will not be able to claim these back. You could try the bank/credit card methods below but it is very unlikely.

There is no cover for Late Rooms as they are not members of ABTA.

What should you do if your travel company goes into administration and is an ABTA member?

If you have booked a package with an ABTA member company that did not include a flight then you are protected. So, if you travelled by train, for example, you should still be able to travel. But you should check with ABTA if you have any have any problems or think there may be any. It will be able to advise. See link below.

What should you do if your travel company goes into administration and a flight is involved?

All flight-based holidays that include a flight must be ATOL protected. This means that you will get a full refund of the amount paid for the holiday. You will need to contact ATOL and go through their process for getting a full refund. If you bought just a flight you will not be covered.

What should you do if you bought a flight separately?

You MAY be covered where you have booked flights but do not receive your tickets immediately. Most charter flights operate like this but sometimes can also apply to discounted scheduled flights or if you have paid for flights in instalments. ATOL protection does not apply to flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents. So, you will need to follow other routes for getting your money back, as detailed below.

If you bought your airline ticket from an airline and you receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment, you are not covered by ATOL.

What if the company didn’t take payment and the hotel was paid directly

Sometimes the payment made by you goes direct to the accommodation provider. This is unusual, but in the case of Late Rooms, your money was paid directly to the hotel by Late Rooms. So, you should check with the hotel as your holiday could still go ahead.

What should you do if your holiday is neither ABTA nor ATOL protected?

Look at your travel insurance which may cover you. Look for “end supplier” cover throughout all the small print. You can also try your bank for cashback if you paid by bank transfer or, if you paid by credit card contact your credit card company and use Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act.

What are your rights regarding excursions?

It is unlikely that these will be covered, but you should check with ABTA and you can try the methods above for getting your money back. Details in the link.

What about gift vouchers?

Unfortunately you are unlikely to get this money back. Contact the company that is put in charge of the administration process and add yourself to the list of creditors but you will be bottom of the list of people to be paid. There’s more in my article gift vouchers for a company in administration.

What if I am currently on holiday with a company that has gone into administration?

If your holiday is covered by ABTA you should still be able to continue your holiday. If you get into any problems with transport or accommodation please contact ABTA for advice. If you are covered by ATOL you should be able to continue with your holiday.

Links for more help

Check all your paperwork or on ABTA and ATOL websites to see if they are members.

ABTA

ATOL

CAA

At the point of writing administrators have not been appointed.

Update 03/08/19 http://www.malvern.group/ KPMG as been appointed as administrators.

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What will happen to consumer rights after Brexit?

Brexit and EU consumer law

As of today Brexit is still a mess! No final decisions have been made about anything.

The future of EU consumer law in the UK

EU law continues to apply until the UK leaves the EU. When the UK does leave, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 comes into force which is the repealing of the European Communities Act 1972. It allows for the Parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement being negotiated between the Government and the European Union.

The UK will retain existing EU law. The laws made over the last 40 years whilst the UK was an EU member will remain in place, unless the Government decides to change any of them.

Many of the EU directives regarding consumer rights are actually enshrined in UK law. So, most will remain the same unless/until they are updated, repealed or changed by Parliament.

Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

The Government has said that in the case of a no-deal Brexit the cost of credit and debit card payments for transactions between the UK and EU are likely to increase.

credit card, phone car and aeroplane

Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018

If there is a no-deal Brexit, EU traders selling these arrangements in or to consumers in the UK will be required to comply with the insolvency protection requirements, as above, so you will still be financially protected if the company goes bust.

If the organiser is not based in the UK, or does not direct its business to the UK, this may not be the case. Request very clear information regarding insolvency protection before booking. You won’t be covered by these regulations but you may be covered by insolvency protection arrangements in the EU member state.

Consumer laws covering purchases in the EU

If there is a no-deal Brexit consumers will not be able to use the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform provided by the European Commission. You may not be able to use the UK-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) organisations for cross border disputes as they will no longer be required to act in cross-border disputes.

If there is a no-deal Brexit you will still be able to return items purchased from an EU retailer. You will still be buying items under the law in the seller’s country. However, it may be more difficult to return items and you may have to go that country if you want to take the matter to court.

If you incur problems after the exit date this will also apply.

If there is a deal there should be no change.

Consumer safety and the EU

If there is a no-deal Brexit the UK will instantly stop being part of the EU agencies and regulatory bodies that are responsible for undertaking safety assessments, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Therefore UK bodies would have to take on this responsibility to ensure consumer safety. UK consumers will still be able to monitor EU consumer product recalls via the Rapid Exchange of Information System (RAPEX) website. Alerts issued by RAPEX provide information about dangerous products and steps being taken to prevent or restrict marketing.

Flights

If there is a no-deal Brexit there could well be disruption to flights around the time the UK actually leaves the EU. This is because the UK would not be part of the European Common Aviation Area and bilateral agreements need to be made.

At the point of writing it is not clear if a flight disruption would be considered as an “extraordinary” circumstance for the purposes of EU 261. I suspect it will be a matter to be fought in court. You should still get a refund but you may not get the compensation, consequential losses or admin fees. Check with your travel insurer as to whether your flight would be covered by Brexit issues.

If you have missed a connecting train due to the cancellation or delay, you can claim a refund for the unused part of the journey should you not go on a later train or have to use an alternative form of transport. You could consider claiming for consequential losses, as above.

Roaming charges

If there is a deal the Government has said that free roaming will remain guaranteed for the implementation period. (This should apply until the end of December 2020 at least. This may be extended until December 2022 for a variety of reasons, but both sides need to agree). Future arrangements after this date will depend on the details of the deal.

If there is a no-deal Brexit, at the point of going to print the Government has proposed a statutory instrument to prepare for changes to mobile roaming arrangements. If it is approved, it will remove the obligation for mobile providers to offer free roaming in the EU. The proposed new law retains the current global data cap on mobile roaming of £45 per monthly billing period and would also legislate to ensure the current alerts issued at 80% and 100% data usage continue.