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Getting deposit back from booking agent.

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Getting deposit back from booking agent.

Sometime last year my parents booked a holiday cottage in Northumberland for August of this year. They paid a deposit of £350 by credit card and the booking was made via an online company, not direct with the cottage owner. 

About a month ago they were contacted by the owner who as very apolgetic but said she wouldn't be able to carry out the recommended additional cleaning that is now required due to COVIS-19 and so had decided to cancel all bookings for this year. Since then they have called and Emailed the company with whom they made the booking over 10 times, but no Emails are replied to and the phone is never answered.

This afternoon they received an automated Email saying that the remaining amount would be debited from their credit card on Friday. They have contacted their bank and ensured that will not happen, but they now want their deposit back which is proving difficult to get as the company is not communicating. The owner of the cottage has apparently been very helpful but says she cannot get any response either hence why she tried to contact people directly to at least let them know she was cancelling bookings. She also doesn't get paid until the final amount is paid so doesn't have the deposit, it is still with the booking company.

My first thought was that they could get the deposit back via a Section 75 claim, but the very first paragraph of the T&C's of the booking company state that they "act only as agents for (i) the owners of the accommodation...." so presumably this will be refused by the bank. My question is really is there anything they can do aside from sending a "letter before action" and potentially using the small claims court?
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