With the appearance of the dangerous corona virus, of course, a lot of planned trips have fallen into the water. Numerous customers are now requesting reimbursement of the amounts paid for flights or vacation trips that had to be canceled or canceled. But even though the legal situation is clear, many customers are currently waiting in vain for the amounts paid to be refunded.
The case law in Germany is normally clear and there is a money-back obligation. This applies if the tour operator cancels the holiday. The same applies to the airlines and their plane tickets. But it now appears that some consumers are initially left hanging in the wake of the corona virus crisis. Thomas Bradler, lawyer at the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia, confirms some cases where the organizers have not given a refund. “Some travel providers probably play a bit on time because the voucher solution is still in the room,” Bradler suspects. The German government and representatives of the travel industry had discussed that tour operators and airlines may offer vouchers as repayments. This may also apply against the customer’s request, although exceptions are provided for hardship cases. The decision has to be made in Brussels by the EU Commission and is still pending.
It seems that some organizers and airlines are trying to take advantage of this uncertainty. “Some refuse to pay back even if they refer to the voucher solution as if it were already law,” confirms Bradler and immediately clarifies: “But that is not the case.” However, many companies would reimburse advance payments without problems. In the case law, even the deadlines for reimbursement are set. Package tours must be paid back within 14 days after cancellation of the trip. For self-booked air travel, the deadline for payment is seven days from receipt of the payment request by the airline.
The expert now recommends the following procedure to customers:
“First of all, you should consider whether you would like to have the money back directly or, in solidarity, agree to leave it with the organizer so that there is no risk of bankruptcy.” In this case, a voucher can be accepted by the customer for Travel can be used until the end of 2022. If you do not want to accept a voucher, you should request the money in writing from the organizer within a period of 7 days.
If in doubt, do without legal action?
If the organizer or the airline does not react then it will be tricky for the customers. You can then try to enforce your own claims with the help of a lawyer, but if the EU declares the voucher solution to be legal, you may be left at the lawyer’s expense. Under the current circumstances, the expert recommends the following to customers: “I would advise you to wait and see if you are not extremely dependent on the money.” It is not yet clear when exactly the EU will make a decision. But Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has already made it clear that, in her opinion, the customer alone is responsible for deciding whether to accept cash or a voucher.