Caravan and campsite customers have been left devastated as the coronavirus lockdown put a stop to the start of the usually busy summer season. With customers left out of pocket, particularly those who pay a yearly fee for pitches, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has revealed how they can get their cash back.
On Thursday’s Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV the financial pro highlighted three popular holiday site providers in particular who have made what he describes as a “dramatic U-turn” with regards to customers refunds.
Mr Lewis explained: “Hoseason and holidays.com which are part of the Vacation Rentals company. It has voluntarily given a formal commitment to the regulator, the Competitions and Markets Authority, that it’s now going to give full coronavirus refunds.”
Though the firm had previously issued vouchers for customers, offering them the opportunity to move their holiday to a later date, Mr Lewis now says they can be exchanged for a full cash refund.
“So if you’ve got a voucher, then you get in touch with it, even if the call centres busy, it will email you soon,” he added.
“If you can’t use that voucher than you can now get a cash refund with it and it’s given a firm commitment on that.”
Similarly, Parkdean has also changed its mind about reuniting customers with their money.
“We’ve talked static caravans before, people who can’t go to static caravans and they are paying big money on that,” he continued.
“Parkdean, that was playing really hardball on this, is now offering 50 percent credit for all static caravan customers.
“You will get it off your 2021 fees for the period that the caravan park was shut this year, and a range of other measures too.”
Other measures include a year’s extra tenure added to the pitch contract.
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The news comes after the regulator, the Competitions and Markets Authority, stepped in following a series of customer reports.
Although the CMA says it is sympathetic to the “unprecedented circumstances”, it says consumers are still entitled to their money if a trip was cancelled.
Regarding VacationRentals latest changes to its refund measures, George Lust, director of consumer protection for the CMA said: “This is a great result but ultimately the CMA has to enforce consumer law, it’s there to protect people, and we are really pleased that VacationRentals did the right thing.
“Other businesses have not yet and we hope this will send a clear message to them, also that we will be prepared to take them to court if it is necessary, to get money back for people.”
Mr Lewis believes it is likely the reason so many holiday providers are now switching direction.
“If you’re a company that wants to keep operating and protect your brand, you’re thinking ‘that could be really bad for us’ and so I think we’re going to see some firms starting to make U-turns,” he said.
“This could just be the tip of the iceberg.”
Earlier in the week, as part of the MSE weekly round-up, it was revealed that Haven and golden Sands are also offering refund packages for customers.
“Haven, one of the biggest site owners which operate 25,000 pitches across 40 parks throughout England, Scotland and Wales, is offering a site fee credit with a £20 per week deduction,” explains MSE.
“This £20 deduction contributes to their ongoing costs, such as site maintenance and security staff.
“Haven is also offering owners who make an income by letting their holiday caravans via their in-house scheme ‘top-ups’ if the site fee credit is less than they’d otherwise earn letting the van out.”
Golden Sands, meanwhile, is offering a credit on a weekly basis at a rate of 60 percent of site fees for each week. It has also assured site fee charges will not increase in 2021.
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