On 1 December 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that Lastminute.com had signed formal undertakings which committed it to pay out over £7 million to more than 9,000 customers when their holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic.
All those affected were due to get their money back by 31 January 2021 at the latest, however, Lastminute.com still owes over £1 million to 2,600 customers.
The company has also failed to meet its ongoing commitment to repay all customers entitled to a refund within 14 days of their package holiday being cancelled on or after 3 December 2020.
On top of this, Lastminute.com told some package holiday customers to go directly to their airline to get the cost of their flight back. This is also in breach of its commitments and against its obligations under the Package Travel Regulations.
The CMA has informed Lastminute.com that it will take court action if it does not repay the outstanding refunds within 7 days. To avoid court action, Lastminute.com must also ensure that customers who book their package holidays from now on will receive a full refund within 14 days where they are legally entitled to their money back following the cancellation of their package holiday.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:
It is wholly unacceptable that thousands of Lastminute.com customers are still waiting for full refunds for package holidays despite the commitments the company signed with us.
We take breaches of commitments extremely seriously. If Lastminute.com does not comply with the law and pay people their outstanding refunds quickly, we will take the company to court.
Today’s announcement follows significant action by the CMA in relation to holiday cancellations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The CMA has written to over 100 package holiday firms to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law, and has already secured refund commitments from Virgin Holidays, TUI UK, Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals.
Further information on this case can be found on the COVID-19 cancellations: package holidays web page.
Notes to editors
Lastminute.com committed to repay at least half of customers by 16 December 2020 and to pay the remaining refunds by no later than 31 January 2021. It signed undertakings on 27 November 2020 and the CMA announced this on 1 December 2020.
The CMA sent a letter before action to Lastminute.com on Friday 12 February 2021. This outlined that the CMA intends to apply to the court for an order under section 217 of the Enterprise Act 2002 requiring Lastminute.com to comply with its obligations under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
The commitments signed by Lastminute.com relate to package travel holidays, not flights alone.
Where package holidays are cancelled and consumers are entitled to a full refund under the Package Travel Regulations, those refunds must be provided within 14 days of the cancellation.