Customers whose touring holidays were cancelled by Shearings due to the coronavirus pandemic are waiting to hear if the credit notes they received in place of cash refunds will be honoured by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Shearings ceased trading last Friday when its parent company Specialist Leisure Group collapsed.
Shearings’ sister companies, National Holidays trading as Caledonian and Travel Style and UK Breakaways also ceased trading. In total, they had more than 64,000 outstanding bookings.
The majority of the holidays they sold were coach tours, which should be financially protected by the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
A number of Shearings holidays included flights, so these should be protected by the ATOL scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Customers with future bookings will get their money back from one of the two schemes, but it’s not yet certain that the CAA will honour the credit notes issued for air-based packages that were cancelled prior to Shearings’ collapse due to the travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While the travel association ABTA has been insisting that credit notes are financially protected, the CAA has refused to confirm this is the case.
However, the early signs are good as the CAA has already emailed customers left holding credit notes inviting them to apply for refunds.
In the claim form sent by the CAA to customers, there is a section to apply for ‘outstanding refunds’, with customers asked to send a document – presumably the credit note – with proof of the amount owed.
On the downside, customers wanting to cash in the credit notes are being asked to complete and sign a Declaration of Outstanding Refund, which must be signed by a solicitor, commissioner for oaths, or an officer of a court appointed by a judge to take declarations, which will come at a cost.
Customers claiming only small refunds might find it easier and cheaper to claim their money back from their credit card issuer, if they paid by plastic, rather than trying to get their money back via the CAA.