Wigan couple criticise travel firm over holiday refund row

A Wigan couple have hit out at a holiday firm for refusing to offer them a refund after their hotel was shut.

Friday, 10th April 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 10th April 2020, 12:02 pm
William Jones is unhappy Shearings wouldn't refund his trip

William and Chris Jones had been due to stay at the Bay View Hotel, Bournemouth that they had booked through Wigan-based Shearings between March 20 and March 22.

However, they were told the night before their stay that the hotel had been shut due to the coronavirus.

Since then they have been trying to get a refund for their £190 self-drive trip - but have been told by Shearings that they cannot have a refund until July.

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Mr Jones, 54, from Whelley, said: “We booked a self-drive stay at one of their hotels in Bournemouth, but received a voicemail at 7pm the night before we were due to arrive saying the hotel would be closed.

“To make it worse, when I called the place back, the receptionist said she was struggling to hear me due to the music.

“When I went on their website on the Friday morning, March 20, it said no refunds.

“I’ve emailed and called them multiple times and have rejected having a credit note but they refuse to give a refund.”

And Mr Jones said the couple ended up forking out £93 to stay at another hotel, Cecil Court, for the three nights instead.

He said he would consider taking Shearings to a small claims court if the matter wasn’t sorted.

He added: “We feel Shearings are using these no refunds as a get out as they’re not sure if they’ll be solvent.

“It’s no way to treat customers and we have no confidence in their brand.”

The couple’s concern mirrors that of Alan Bailey, and his wife Carolyn, from Bury, who were told they wouldn’t be able to get an immediate refund for a cancelled £450 coach trip to Cornwall.

Travel group Shearings which specialises in coach holidays across the UK and Europe, has made the decision as it looks to ensure the business remains financially viable.

This follows a move by Shearings to cancel its tours until the end of April in light of government advice against all non-essential overseas travel for British nationals.

The firm is offering holiday credits for customers but said they will have to wait until the end of July to discuss having a full refund.

Currently, customers with package holidays are legally entitled to their money back within 14 days of cancellation.

But many operators say they now don’t have the cash to meet the demand.

On its website, Shearings also says that in line with current guidelines and due to the volumes of bookings affected, it is not currently able to facilitate refunds.

A spokesman for Shearings Holidays said: “As with many others in the holiday sector, we are offering any customer whose plans have been impacted a holiday credit to re-book for a later date.

“These holiday credits are covered by ATOL and the Bonded Coach holiday scheme and can be used against any holiday in 2020 or 2021.”

The spokesman added: “Alternatively, customers who are unable to use their holiday credits will be able to discuss options, including a full refund, at the end of July.”