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Martin Lewis: Money Saving Expert survey slams Virgin & loveholidays as worst for refunds

Money Saving Expert.com has shared the results of its latest survey which has slammed Virgin and loveholidays as the worst performing firms, especially when it came to giving people refunds. The survey had over 77,000 responses and found out how many Britons actually received refunds after the coronavirus pandemic forced holidaymakers to shelve their plans. As well as Virgin and loveholidays, budget airline Ryanair scored even lower as one of the worst major brands with a net score of -89 percent compared with Virgin’s -88 percent and loveholidays’ -81 percent.

Only four percent (one in 20) of Ryanair, Virgin Holidays and loveholidays customers said they had received a refund to date.

Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair customers said they had been waiting for more than two months for a refund.

Virgin Atlantic has had the biggest decline since Money Saving Expert.com’s last survey.

The company has plummeted 37 percentage points from -51 percent to -88 percent.

READ MORE: Holidays 2020: Eurostar remains closed but new route revealed

Martin Lewis: Money Saving Expert survey slams Virgin & loveholidays as worst for refunds (Image: ITV/GETTY)

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Martin Lewis: The survey had over 77,000 responses (Image: YOUTUBE – Rackspace Technology UK)

A loveholidays spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “To date, loveholidays has actioned more than 42,000 refund requests totalling over £22 million (excluding the cost of refunds from airlines) which represents over 25 percent of our customers affected.

“Unfortunately, due to the scale of cancellations involved, while we are working as hard as possible to process refunds, it is taking longer than we would like.

“We are listening to customers and appreciate they have had trouble contacting us as our live chat has been overwhelmed but we are working on improving that.

“Automated processes have been introduced to speed up the refund procedures with further improvements being worked on.

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“For example, over 20,000 customers with refund credit notes due to expire at the end of July are being contacted this week to bring forward their refund payments (excluding flights) with the aim to pay their refund within the next 14 days (the exact timing of receipt is subject to card providers timelines which are outside of our control).

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“For all other customers, we are aiming to process all requested cash refunds back to them within eight weeks of us receiving the request via ‘Manage My Booking’ on our website.

“Where we receive cash refunds from airlines, we are committed to pass these on to our customers within five working days but it is important to note that to date we have only received 28 percent of the total due from the airlines.

“We will continue to review and evaluate our refund processes and will try to make this as fast as we possibly can and, once again we would like to apologise to customers affected.”

Martin Lewis: Virgin Atlantic has had the biggest decline since MSE’s last survey (Image: GETTY)

Loveholidays also said that 20 percent of their customers have chosen to receive a Refund Credit Note.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “As a direct result of global travel restrictions brought on by the impact of Covid-19, we have had to cancel a vast number of flights and continue to be inundated with enquiries, including refund requests. Our absolute focus remains on supporting all of our customers to amend, rebook or cancel plans.

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“We would like to reassure all customers that if they’ve requested a refund for a cancelled trip, it will be repaid in full, and the work to process refunds is our priority. In order to accelerate the process, we have boosted the size of the teams handling refunds and trained additional staff to use the required systems, which is increasing our capacity to process refunds.

“We are committed to completing each refund at the earliest opportunity, and certainly within a maximum timeframe of 120 days, from the date the refund is requested. We are making every effort to reduce this timeframe wherever possible in these extraordinary circumstances and would like to thank all of our customers for their patience.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom with three major brands coming out on top.

Travel Counsellors came out on top with an impressive net score of 84 percent which was closely followed by by Trailfinders (+81 percent) and both of Jet2’s brands which came out at 79 percent and 77 percent respectively.

All the brands have managed to drastically improve since Money Saving Expert.com’s last survey.

Other brands that have seen a vast improvement in the survey include First Choice, Riviera, Trailfinders, TUI, Hoseasons and Holiday Extras.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said holiday refunds have become a “nightmare” for Britons who have potentially thousands of pounds tied up in holidays.

He said: “This refund farce has now gone on too long.

Martin Lewis: “This refund farce has now gone on too long” (Image: GETTY)

“The pandemic has been a torrid time for millions, who have faced huge financial shocks.

“Having thousands of pounds tied up on what was once a dream, has turned into a nightmare. It’s left people in distress and some will have seen their mental health impacted.

“It is time for regulators and politicians to take action. Even now, after months, less than a third of people in our mammoth survey have received the full (usually) legally required refunds, and it simply isn’t good enough.”

Mr Lewis explained how the survey will be passed on to help people get the refunds they are legally entitled to.

“We will be passing a dossier on this to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport.

“The CMA’s already called for full cancellation refunds. It first focused on childcare, weddings, events and UK holiday accommodation sectors.

International travel post-lockdown (Image: EXPRESS)

“And it’s worked, with firms U-turning on refunds. Now it must turn its attention to these travel firms – pressure needs to be put on Virgin, Love Holidays and others – as people have run out of options.

“Of course, we understand the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry sector is devastating.

“It’s why I’ve long called for forbearance both ways – if people can help by taking vouchers or rebooking then they should.

“Yet how individual firms have treated their customers during this time will long be remembered.

“And the fact so many firms are flouting the law and treating customers poorly means those that have bent over backwards in a difficult time need applause.

“Bravo then to Jet2, Trailfinders, Hays Travel, Airbnb, Travel Counsellors, and all the small firms that have helped that weren’t big enough to make our survey.

“I’d urge your customers to remember this, and reward you with their future custom.”

Ryanair has been contacted for comment.

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