Wigan travel firm Shearings under fire for refusing to offer refunds
Wigan’s historic holiday firm Shearings has come under fire from customers for refusing to offer refunds on trips cancelled due to the coronavirus.
The travel group, 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.
Holidaymaker Alan Bailey criticised the policy which he described as appalling and claimed it had left elderly people feeling helpless.
Mr Bailey, who had a trip to Cornwall cancelled with his wife Carolyn, said: “We were due to go to St Mawe’s for five days at a cost of £450, but it was cancelled because of the coronavirus and we were told we wouldn’t be able to get a refund.
"I’ve made several phone calls but I’ve been told we can’t get a refund.
“I asked the operatives to justify legally why they are entitled not to give a refund and they couldn’t answer me.
“They just said they’d had an instruction from the managing director not to offer refunds.
“I’ve sent various emails which say I don’t want a credit note/voucher but they still won’t give me a refund.
“People have complained to ABTA who informed them that Shearings should be offering refunds.
“What is particularly appalling is that many of Shearings clients are the elderly who will probably be left feeling helpless in obtaining a refund.”
Mr Bailey, from Bury, said he was considering taking the matter to a small claims court .
He added: “No explanations are being given or any legal justification
“They are breaking Shearings term and conditions.
“They are in breach of consumer law. People have complained to ABTA who informed them that Shearings should be offering refunds.
“So I’m considering taking the matter to a small claims court.
“I feel as if they’re riding roughshod over elderly people in particular.”
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 books affected, it is not currently able to facilitate refunds.
It says its holiday credit vouchers are offered the same financial protection as the original holiday that people booked.
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.
“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.”
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