Flybe refund

I bought a package involving Flybe flights and an overnight stay. When Flybe ceased trading, the agent (lastminute.com) offered me the choice of Easyjet flights from Luton or a refund. As I live nowhere near Luton and getting there for a 6AM flight was impracticable, I chose the refund.

Not to worry, I was told, you have an ATOL certificate, so everything will be fine and dandy.

If only that were true.

First, the ATOL certificate is as much use as a £10 note in the Sahara Desert, the system is geared to circumstances where the agent goes bust, not the airline and the CAA, which administers the scheme, doesn't want to know.

Had I known then what I know now about Lastminute.com, I wouldn't have touched them with a 10 foot pole. (Incidentally, I got to them with a search via Booking.com, so be warned). They have a webchat system which seems to be staffed by people with little grasp of reality, and absolutely none of issues concerning travel.

When I first asked about the refund, I was told that it would be paid within two weeks. When I pointed out that it had already been a month by then, they next told me that they were "waiting for a reply from the airline" Yeah right! I managed to find an email address which does get replies, but they are of the stonewalling type.

What makes it worse is that those who should help won't. The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations Regulations says in Section 14 that refunds must be paid within 14 days, but needless to say provides no remedy for the consumer when this limit is ignored.

 In this case the authorities are aware, the Competition & Markets Authority have obtained from Lastminute.com an undertaking that "anyone entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled by lastminute.com on or after 3 December 2020 will be paid within 14 days".
See: "Lastminute.com commits to refund over £7m for cancelled holidays", Competition & Markets Authority press release, 1 December 2020. (I can't post a link).

Needless to say, when I asked the Competition & Markets Authority about this, they didn't want to know either. As far as they are concerned, they have obtained a "scrap of paper" and issued the press release. Job done!

Can I sue them? Well no actually. First, the company is based in Switzerland. Second even if they were not, the Small Claims procedure under which this would fall does not permit a prevailing party to obtain costs. Therefore any win would be wiped out by the costs involved and the whole system in effect acts as a shield behind which recalcitrant debtors can hide.

I can't use Section 75 rights as this was a business trip, paid for by my company (so S 75 does not apply).

Is there anything left? I seem to have "rights" which are there right until the time that I try to exercise them.

Comments

  • CKhalvashi
    CKhalvashi Posts: 12,056 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Name Dropper
    ATOL is about when the agent ceases trading, not any of the suppliers.

    If you're within 120 days of the date you should have travelled I suggest contacting your bank or card issuer regarding a Chargeback. This will be easier and faster than any court action.

    You are not correct about the SCC procedures. You can ask for (and will be granted if you win) costs of claim, but not legal etc costs on top of that. The SCC procedures are actually very efficient and 99% of the time it's possible to represent yourself. The other 1% are better suited to the Fast Track rather than the Small Claims Track.

    LM does have an office in the UK.
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