Lastminute.com, the flight and hotel booking site, has agreed to pay £7m in refunds to more than 9,000 customers whose holidays were cancelled because of coronavirus – many of whom have spent months battling for repayments.
After an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), lastminute.com has given undertakings that it will pay refunds as soon as possible, and by 31 January at the latest.
Angry holidaymakers say they have spent months trying to force the online travel agent to make refunds – many from hotels and flights that were cancelled during the UK lockdown in March and April.
Lastminute.com – which came to prominence during the dot.com boom 20 years ago – is no longer a UK based company but is a brand operated by a Swiss group, BravoFly, in Chiasso, close to the border with Italy. Many customers have written to the Guardian’s consumer champions column to complain that attempts to contact the company have hit a brick wall.
One, a second-year student at the University of Nottingham, paid £700 for flights and accommodation in Barcelona, but said: “I still have not received a refund almost six months later. I have also tried numerous times contacting lastminute by telephone and email, however they have been unresponsive. This money is a great deal to me, and I feel I have exhausted every possible avenue trying to get it back.”
The Guardian approached BravoFly for comment.