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Self catering refunds - how igloo embraced the new normal

Nick takes a look at holiday refunds, your consumer rights and how igloo has embraced the new normal.

igloo flexible bookings - Fair booking terms and refunds in event of restrictions - igloo has taken a fresh approach to self catering.
Fair booking terms and refunds in event of restrictions - igloo has taken a fresh approach to self catering.

What a year 2020 turned out to be - this time last year who could have thought what was ahead of us all. We all now realise how quickly things can change and how important fair contracts and flexibility is when booking a holiday.

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If you are having issues with refunds from reluctant travel firms - it really can’t be stressed enough - if you can’t travel due to restrictions you are entitled to claim a refund. When it comes to vouchers or refund credit notes - these can be offered but should be given equal prominence in any communication and it should always be clear they aren't the only option.

We have all heard the horror stories about holiday companies refusing refunds, only offering vouchers and generally making a bad situation worse. We know it has been a tough year for the tourism industry but the way some companies - including self catering accommodation providers - handled things left so many people out of pocket.

I know myself I spent countless hours - actually countless days - chasing up my own travel refunds from a cancelled holiday. Some providers were excellent and others I will never use again as a result of how they handled the situation. Big players in UK self catering were even pulled up by the Competition and Markets Authority for their unfair practices and MPs across the UK were inundated with complaints from their constituents about tour operators, package holidays and self catering holiday refunds.

Both myself and Erin were both working in the industry during this time so had a lot of contact with holidaymakers and quickly understood their needs in our changing world. A holiday - particularly one involving families getting together isn’t just about money - it is so much more. It is truly gutting to lose out on long awaited break or family reunion and then to have added stress of having to deal with chasing refunds and being left out of pocket adds insult to injury.

Seeing all this unfold we knew we had to be different. When we stating planning igloo one of the first things we wrote across the giant flipchart paper on my dining room table was “fairness”. We wanted everything we did to be fair and we wanted to put our guests at the heart of everything we do. 

It wasn’t long before we started researching the guidance on best practice from the Competition and Markets Authority and drafted our terms to be in line with this. For guests this means, no unfair charges to move a booking, deposits are always refundable and bookings are refundable in the event of restrictions. To do this we collect a booking fee to cover our card handling costs. For our owners we made sure the contracts with them were fair and all aspects of our business transparent.

How to get a holiday refund?

The CMA self catering and holiday accommodation guidance is really interesting and it is worth sticking the kettle on and spending time reading up on their guides to consumer protection law and your consumer rights. The CMA ruling on holiday refunds states -

"If contracts cannot go ahead because of lockdown laws then, for most consumer contracts, the CMA would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund"

If you are having issues with refunds from reluctant travel firms - it really can’t be stressed enough - if you can’t travel due to restrictions you are entitled to claim a refund. When it comes to vouchers or refund credit notes - these can be offered but should be given equal prominence in any communication and it should always be clear they aren't the only option. In some cases you may be able to claim a chargeback via your credit card.

When booking you should check the travel company or accommodation provider you are using - offers flexibility, offers refunds in the event of restrictions and it is also worth checking out review sites such as google reviews to see if previous guests have had issues getting their money back.

As a new business, we have set up our systems up to accommodate the need for flexibility and we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to do it. When it comes to payments we only pay the owner (and our own commission) when the booking is complete - this is good for guests and owners as any refund can be done quickly and easily. Owners don’t have to pay commission on any cancelled bookings. 

As a modern dynamic company we embraced the new normal from day 1 and can easily adapt to whatever 2021 brings. With all the work we have done to ensure fair booking policies it means you can book your next self catering break with confidence. We look forward to welcoming guests to our properties in 2021 and beyond.

Nick, director igloo.scot

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