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CMA to Investigate Concerns about Cancellation Policies and Refunds

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on 30th April that it is investigating reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Taskforce has seen increasing numbers of complaints in relation to cancellations and refunds, which now account for 4 out of 5 complaints being received. Many of the complaints are about “people being pressured to accept vouchers for holiday accommodation which can only be used during a more expensive period… The CMA acknowledges that most businesses are trying to do the right thing in these unprecedented circumstances but, at the same time, ordinary consumers deserve to have their rights protected”.

The statement covers a range of consumer contracts and different situations. It includes that, in most cases, the CMA would expect a full refund to be offered if:

  • a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services
  • no service is provided by a business, because this is prevented by restrictions that apply during the current lockdown or
  • a consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because of the restrictions that apply during the current lockdown

Read the press release.

This could not have come at a worse time for our sector. As you will know, with no income and little idea when holidaymakers will return, many small accommodation businesses face ruin.

“There’s a lot of talk on social media about how evil businesses are for not giving a refund, but it’s important to remember that these are small business that are dependent on these bookings – we are a very seasonal business and half our season has already been erased” (Tom Bowles, Campwell).

Our friends at the Professional Association of Self-Caterers managed to secure some favourable coverage of the pressures of our situation in the Guardian.

What can you do?

To report the CMA to themselves after their completely unbalanced report and please click here:


Here are illustrations of the steps you will need to take:










Press Start Now and fill in the name of the company that you are complaining about:  the Competition and Markets Authority.

You’ll need to write 1250 characters. Sample below:

‘The CMA are acting unfairly in the interests of consumers against accommodation owners, who have been prevented from providing holidays due to government intervention.
They have failed to take into account the huge costs of providing the accommodation, failed to acknowledge that guests are not allowed to travel and failed to recognise that this situation is not the owners’ fault.

It is impossible for owners to simply refund all customers who don’t have insurance. They do not have the money, having used it to provide the service already. The repercussions for the industry in not recognising this point would be catastrophic. Using owners as the insurers of last resort would result in business closures with the consequent loss of jobs for staff, pubs and restaurants, visitor attractions and service industries.

Owners are trying extremely hard to transfer guests, knowing that they have already incurred substantial losses. In offering to transfer they will make a loss on every holiday as they will have incurred the costs twice whilst receiving only one income.

The CMA have totally failed to look at both sides of this dreadful situation and now need to revise their advice to consumers to reflect this and act in a true and fair way’.

You will then be sent a summary of the complaint.

Thanks to Alistair Handyside of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers for this advice



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