Today (18 October 2021) the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has filed proceedings against Truly Holdings (TH). It is “… requesting a court order that outstanding refunds be immediately repaid and that, going forward, customers who are entitled to a refund are repaid within 14 days.”
TH operates Teletext Holidays and sister company Alpharooms.com.
On 16 September 2021 the CMA announced that it was considering taking legal action against TH. The CMA felt that TH had not made enough effort to pay all outstanding refunds to customers which should have been made by the end of August. In addition, any holidays booked and cancelled after their undertaking in May were to be repaid within the legal 14 days’ time frame.
But TH has not satisfied the CMA that they are doing enough. It recognised that although TH had “…paid back a significant number of customers within this 2-week period, too many have been left waiting longer for the refunds due to them.” This is in addition to the CMA finding that TH has also not done enough to repay customers who were still owed refunds before it gave the undertakings.
By September TH had still not paid back £600,000 of the £7.8 million it owed to package holiday customers. TH said this was due to not having current bank account details or that it was unable to refund back to the original payment due to purchases being more than a year old. This was not enough to satisfy the CMA.
The CMA wrote to TH threatening that it would take court action if it did not take “immediate steps to rectify the situation and to ensure that, in the future, customers who are entitled to a refund are repaid in the timeframe specified by law.”
Today the CMA has requested that due to the detriment being placed on customers that the legal action be expedited, but the court will decide the date of the hearing.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:
“Companies must abide by consumer protection law and treat their customers fairly.
After engaging with Teletext Holidays extensively, we are now requesting a court order to make sure that the company immediately pays back the money it still owes to customers and refunds people within 14 days, going forward.
As a result of the CMA’s action to date, Truly Holdings has so far paid over £7 million owed to package holiday customers.”
The UK is bracing itself for news of the lifting of national and international COVID-19 travel restrictions as early as 7 May 2021.
Whilst we are becoming more confident that we may be able to travel and go on holiday after a turbulent year, many of us may still be nervous of going abroad. This includes concerns about other countries, flights and possible difficulties with refunds. Also many people are wanting to support UK business owners and are now on tight budgets.
UK money bloggers provide some tips for booking and taking holidays in the UK this year to ensure your hard-earned break can go as smoothly as possible.
Helen Dewdney The Complaining Cow, consumer champion, advises that consumers should be aware of their rights when booking holidays, especially if they have to cancel. Over the last year we have seen a number of companies illegally refuse to give refunds offering vouchers or alternative dates when lockdown prevented holidays being taken. The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has intervened in some cases, taking action against companies.
She advises looking at the companies who have treated customers badly over the last year and take reviews into consideration. Helen says “Remember also that you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Services should be carried out with reasonable skill and care and so you are entitled to redress if they aren’t! Your contract is with the business to which you paid the money.”
If you have to go to different accommodation due to overbooking then you can claim for breach of contract. This would be what a court would deem as reasonable and could be the difference between the cost of the booked hotel and the new accommodation. You might also claim for extra travel expenses (such as taxis) incurred due to the overbooking. Your rights when your hotel overbooks
Coronavirus - how to ensure you gain redress when a venue cancels
Where to stay
“If you’re not too bothered about a beach break, then consider visiting to a UK city”, says Claire St from Stapos Thrifty Life Hacks. Typically it would be rather costly to visit London or Edinburgh, but there are some real bargains to be had at the moment.
“Many of these city hotels survive on business travel and international travel. Obviously this has tanked over the past 12 months and it’s unlikely to pick up for the foreseeable. These hoteliers have rooms to fill and they’d rather reduce their rates to get a bum in a bed, then have half of their rooms lying empty. So if you’ve always wanted to visit Manchester, Bristol, or York, then now’s the time. Consider booking a room with an in-room fridge and a kettle, so you can keep food costs down during your trip.”
Saving money on accommodation
Young Fun and Thrifty blogger, Jo Yeomans, loves to stay in places that have their own cooking facilities available, as it helps her to save on food costs. Sometimes this will be private AirBnBs, but she’s also made use of shared kitchens in guest houses and hostels. “You can even get creative with just a fridge. I’ll typically still have one meal out each day, but will eat breakfast where I’m staying and often make up a picnic lunch to take out for the day. Just remember to add a food container to your packing to avoid any squashed sandwiches!”
If you’re booking a cottage or holiday let, it’s always worth contacting the owner directly, rather than booking through a travel company. Hayley Muncey from Savvy Sloth says that “Owners are often happy to give you a cheaper rate for booking direct. Travel companies charge fees or commissions, so the rates are usually higher for the same stay.”
How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)
Think of house swapping too!
Things to do on holiday in the UK
Faith Archer, from Much More With Less, has lots of simple free and low-cost ideas. “I always pack my driving licence and ID, so I can get visitor membership of the local library. Means we can borrow books and DVDs for the kids, and libraries often have toys to play with on a rainy day. I also take National Trust and English Heritage membership cards, plus the 2-for-1 garden entry card from Gardeners’ World magazine, so we can visit local attractions for less. We go on self-catering holidays to cut costs, so I make a vat of bolognese or curry beforehand to eat on the first night. This helps avoid the temptation of an expensive takeaway after travelling!”
Vouchers, discounts and cashback sites
Money Saving Central blogger, Claire Roach, always purchases trips to UK hotels and getaways via Wowcher and Groupon. “You can save a fortune via these discount deal websites, particularly Groupon as they often have a voucher code you can use alongside the already discounted prices. I recently purchased a week at Pontins for £139 during half term. The same break was £459 on the Pontins website.”
Emma Bradley, who blogs at Mums Savvy Savings, uses discount codes and cashback sites like Topcashback to save some money on booking breaks. “These sites give cash back which you can then use as spending money. It can take a little time searching out any offers but it is worth it”. She also uses Clubcard points and swaps them for reward partners meal vouchers which makes eating out a real bargain. “You just need to be prepared and then you can make good savings!”
Travelling in the UK
If you’re a National Trust member, look for NT coastal car parks to slash the cost of parking – they are free with your membership and parking near beaches can otherwise be costly if you’re there for a long day. Emma Maslin, The Money Whisperer blogger, takes advantage of this and in the same vein says that “Often it’s cheaper to purchase a season ticket for beach parking, it can work out the same cost as a few days of regular parking but works out a lot cheaper if you’re there for a couple of weeks. Ask!”
There are still ways to save on travelling even if you don’t drive! The Savvy Scientist, Jeff Clark, doesn’t have a car, so often travels by train. He advises booking tickets far in advance and travelling at unpopular times which can massively reduce the costs. “I once saved a fortune by booking an early morning train to the Lake District on New Year’s day. The Two Together railcard also comes in handy when travelling with my partner as it gets us another 1/3rd off.”
He cheekily suggests using work too! “In the past I’ve also had holidays at conference destinations as the travel is already paid for through work!” Naomi Willis from Skint Dad advises using Tesco Clubcard points too. She gets a free annual Friends and Family Railcard and says “It slashes the cost of our train travel when we have breaks away in the UK.”