A new white paper exploring the impact on consumers as a result of holidays cancelled due to COVID-19 has been published today.
As YouGov data on the volume and value of Refund Credit Notes (RCNs) that are currently in circulation comes to light, the paper – which was commissioned by one of the UK’s largest holiday companies, On the Beach, and has been written by financial broadcaster, journalist and consumer expert, Georgie Frost – has revealed that a whopping £781.5 million of consumer cash is currently tied up in said RCNs, or “IOUs” with many travel companies.
It also shows that 43% of the consumers surveyed who accepted an RCN were not offered a full cash refund when their holiday was cancelled, despite this being their legal right.
As a result of the findings, On the Beach has set out five recommendations to help restore consumer trust in the industry – including a call for holiday companies to proactively contact their customers still holding RCNs from 2020 and offer them a full cash refund.
The beach holiday expert is also encouraging consumers currently holding an RCN but don’t want one, to contact their holiday provider now and ask for a full cash refund.
It’s estimated that around 8.1 million people had a package holiday cancelled due to COVID-19.
Only half of those with a cancelled holidays received a full cash refund, and 851,000 (nearly 11%) accepted an RCN rather than cash, with the white paper outlining that over a million people with an RCN or rebooking were not offered a cash refund at the point of cancellation, even though this is a legal requirement.
What’s more is that 52% of consumers surveyed were unaware of their legal right to cash.
“It’s sad to think that a family who has saved for months or even years for their one summer holiday abroad has had to fight to get their money back, and in many cases have not been provided with full and transparent information of what they are entitled to when their holiday was cancelled.” said Anna Richardson, who has written a foreword for the white paper.
“Looking forward to your holiday is a massive part of the whole experience, but while there is still so much uncertainty and disruption, people are understandably lacking the confidence to plan and book again because they’re unsure of their rights if it gets cancelled.
“The smoke and mirrors being used by some holiday companies is wrong.
“I urge people who had their holiday cancelled to use their right to a full cash refund and contact their travel provider today to ask for their cash.”
Simon Cooper – Chief Executive of On the Beach – added: “COVID-19 shocked the travel industry and it was challenging for everyone in the early months to manage the disruption and volume of cancellations.
“We’re over 14 months on now and yet the knock on impact of refunds on consumer confidence continues to affect the industry. Even now, only a third of people say they would consider booking a holiday to a green list destination, so we have to do something to restore their confidence.
“Without it the industry will continue to be in trouble.”
He continued: “There are millions of people still holding these IOUs, in some cases over a year later with very limited opportunity to go on holiday [and] this is all because some travel companies actively avoided offering cash and used their customers’ money for future holidays as cash flow. No one would expect to receive a loan for this long and pay no interest, so why should these companies continue to hold onto their customers’ money for future holidays?
“To begin regaining consumer confidence and trust in the industry, we want those people with refund credit notes from 2020 to be refunded in full.
“We’re also urging regulators to enforce that holiday companies and airlines hold their customers’ money in separate, regulated trust accounts until the date of travel.”
Why are RCNs not in the best interests of consumers?
Where consumers are not aware that RCNs can be exchanged for cash, RCNs hold them to one travel provider, which means that they don’t have their own cash in the bank to spend as and when they want, or put into a savings account earning interest.
RCNs remove the consumer’s ability to shop around for the best holiday deals and dates when they want to rebook.
It’s also reported that 6% of all vouchers issued in the UK go completely unused.
What does the report recommend?
On the Beach has set out five recommendations in the white paper to help rebuild consumer confidence in the travel industry, which are:
Automatic Refunds: Automatically refund customers in cash when RCNs have been held for a year.
Proactive Contact: Customers holding RCNs from 2020 should be contacted proactively, notified of their rights and offered a full cash refund.
New RCNs Offered Fairly: Any new RCNs offered to customers who have holidays cancelled in the future must be accompanied with the alternative choice of a full cash refund, with equal prominence.
Financial Protection: Greater protections for customers’ money with ring-fenced trust accounts should be a requirement for all ATOL holders and airlines.
Greater Transparency: Regulators to report on the number and value of RCNs in circulation, allowing potential customers to make informed decisions on who to book future holidays with.
You can find more information, and access advice and assistance regarding RCNs from OnTheBeach here.
Featured Image – Unsplash / Dan Gold
Manchester United reject offers for Mason Greenwood as rep says he ‘should be allowed to move forward with his young life’
Manchester United have reportedly rejected a number of offers for Mason Greenwood as the club continues their internal investigation into his behaviour.
The club have reportedly received a number of offers for the young forward from Turkish teams in recent weeks and months while Greenwood has been suspended from playing or training. He has yet to return to the sport after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped.
The charges handed down in January 2022 were ultimately dropped last month when key witnesses withdrew, more than a year on from the incident that was widely circulated on social media.
Now, following a behind-the-scenes feature by The Athletic and ‘new material’ leading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case for the foreseeable, it seems United are now the only party still investigating Greenwood, with his own team and figures around the club pushing for a resolution.
Speaking to Laurie Whitwell as part of the piece, one of Greenwood’s representatives argued that there is “no real substance” to the allegations, them “a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims.”
He went on to say, “Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”
Another source is also said to have told the outlet that the youngster has been fundamentally changed by the experience, insisting that he “would run through a brick wall” to be back playing at United.
As for the club’s stance, it remains to be seen what their final decision on his future will be, but it was reported earlier this month that a potential return is still “firmly under consideration” and his number 11 shirt has not yet been vacated as many would have expected if he was set to move on.
On the other hand, the article goes on to detail questions surrounding Greenwood’s conduct and general attitude during his relatively short time as a senior player too, the suggestion being that he was slacking in training because “he knew he was a good player”.
His attendance at Carrington is said to have been raised as an issue on more than one occasion and then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær often covered for training sessions and games he missed after failing to turn up to the team hotel for “unexplained absences”.
Another source who watched him play aged just 16 also went on to reveal that Bradford-born academy product “wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***”, apparently even calling out Cristiano Ronaldo as “dead [finished]” when he was still at Real Madrid.
Greenwood played over 100 senior games for United and was widely considered one of the brightest young prospects in England, let alone the club, but the career trajectory he looked to be on is widely different from the problematic position he finds himself in now, regardless of any offers from abroad.
So, after setting up a fake consultancy firm based out of Seoul, South Korea called Hanseong Consulting and inviting along a number of MPs, many of whom either previously held or currently sit in senior party positions, they began holding Zoom interviews with the various candidates to see if they’d be interested.
More importantly, however, the crucial question was “how much would they want to be paid?”. The likes of former Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng had very simple but nevertheless astounding answers:
As you can see in the trailer for the full mini-documentary, both the former health secretary and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted their day rate as up to £10,000.
In fact, Hancock broke down his figures even further, insisting that an hourly rate would equate to “around £1,500”. Wonder how that sizes up to the fee he was paid to be on I’m A Celeb? (yes, that wasn’t a fever dream, it really happened). We’ll let you do the nauseating maths on that one.
Other Tories who were duped into putting themselves forward for the made-up job included Gavin Williamson, Stephen Hammond and the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee (a private members group known to influencers backbenchers), Sir Graham Brady.
Well, they were the only ‘candidates’ to have issued statements after the fact trying to play down the story, anyway. The campaigners approached 20 different MPs under the guise of the fabricated company, with other individuals dropping out in more preliminary stages.
After having asked for £60k a year on top of his £48k annual salary as the representative for Manc constituency Altrincham and Sale West, this would have been Brady’s fourth job besides his two marketing and comms advisory roles, but assured he would always act “within the Code of Conduct”.
Hammond had more to say on the matter, responding that “scamming is an unpleasant activity undertaken with malicious intent”, while Hancock’s office responded by labelling it a “failed attempt at entrapment” and insisted he is free to look at “exploratory options” as he is set to stand down as an MP.
Led By Donkeys are now in the process of gradually releasing each one of the fake job interviews in full on their YouTube channel.