Thomas Cook customers still waiting for refunds

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Thousands of Thomas Cook customers are still waiting to be compensated four months after the travel group collapsed, leaving 650,000 holidaymakers with worthless future bookings.

Frustrated customers who have contacted Guardian Money alleged that chaotic administration at the private firm subcontracted by the Civil Aviation Authority has led to long delays and a lack of promised refunds.

Thomas Cook collapsed in September, triggering an airlift of more than 150,000 holidaymakers who were abroad at the time.

In October the CAA launched a refund programme for all Thomas Cook customers who had made future holiday bookings that were protected by the Atol scheme. At the time, the CAA said it said it aimed to pay all valid claims within 60 days, but the scheme has been dogged by delays.

The CAA’s appointed contractor received 67,000 applications on the first day. On the self-appointed deadline – 6 December – it emerged that 50,000 applicants had not been refunded.

More than six weeks on and customers – some whom are owed more that £5,000 – are growing increasingly frustrated that they have not been paid by the government-backed scheme.

On 8 January, the CAA revealed that 10,000 received claims were still to be paid.

Julian Chance is one of those affected. He booked a September 2020 Florida holiday with Thomas Cook in April last year, but has been struggling for several months to get the scheme to refund his £500 deposit paid by credit card.

“At the start of December I received an email from Protect Claims [appointed by the CAA to process claims] saying that all payments submitted by debit card had been refunded and therefore my claim was therefore closed. I have repeatedly explained that mine was paid by credit card, So I am still due a refund, but am getting nowhere. I was told to resubmit the claim but the website rejects duplicates. It’s getting ridiculous,” he said.

Other customers have similarly reported a chaotic claims process with repeated request to provide information already sent. Another claimant wrote on the consumer review website Trustpilot that £250 of her £750 claim had been paid, at which point it was closed.

“Numerous calls and emails to the CAA and finally my case has been reopened but still no refund. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall,” she said.

A CAA spokesman said: “While more than 95% of people who have made a claim have now received their ATOL payments, we are sorry that some consumers have faced delays. We are continuing to work through this enormous operation as quickly as we can.”

It said Chance’s claim had now been paid and blamed the delay on the fact that Thomas Cook had issued him with two booking reference numbers. More than £310m has been made in Atol payments to Thomas Cook customers, the largest amount paid out since its creation in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that thousands of Thomas Cook customers are yet to submit a claim for refunds that they are due. They have until the September deadline to do so.