Riley’s holiday was cancelled due to Covid-19. But when she asked her bank to try to get her money back, she was told it couldn’t help as she’d been offered a voucher by the tour operator. We told the bank it should have pursued the chargeback, and told it to compensate Riley for the trouble she’d had getting her money back.

What happened

Riley contacted us after getting into a dispute with her bank over a refund for a holiday. She explained she’d booked a holiday for herself and ten friends, which had been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Riley explained she’d paid for the holiday on her debit card. She told us the tour operator had said she’d receive a refund in the form of a voucher, which could be used to re-book a holiday in the near future.

Riley told us she wasn’t happy with the offer of a voucher, as it was unlikely she and her friends would all be available to travel together at another time. She said she’d contacted her bank to try to reclaim the transactions she’d made using her debit card. But the bank had told her it couldn’t help because she’d been offered a voucher.

Riley wasn’t happy with this, and asked us to look into her complaint.

What we said

We asked Riley’s bank to talk through its approach. It told us it hadn’t raised a chargeback at the time Riley had contacted them as it didn’t think this would be successful.

In particular, the bank said it didn’t have enough information to suggest that the tour operator was in breach of its terms and conditions by offering Riley a voucher instead of a cash refund. It also said that Riley was required to attempt to resolve things with the tour operator, and that it appeared the tour operator was still considering the matter.

There’s no obligation for a card issuer to raise a chargeback when a consumer asks for one. But we consider it good practice for them to attempt a chargeback where the right exists, and there’s a reasonable prospect of it being successful.

Looking at what had happened here, it was clear that Riley hadn’t received the service she’d been promised and hadn’t been refunded by the supplier. We hadn’t seen anything in the terms and conditions of the tour operator that suggested it could give her a voucher instead of a refund. From the evidence we’d seen, which had also been available to the bank, we thought it was clear Riley had attempted to resolve things directly with the tour operator and that they weren’t willing to do any more.

After we became involved, the bank reconsidered its position, and raised a chargeback for Riley that was successful. This meant, with the help of her bank, she received a full refund.  

Riley told us that, while she was relieved that she could now give her friends back their money, she didn’t understand why it had taken so long to sort things out.

We acknowledged that it had been an unprecedented time for card providers, which were dealing with significant numbers of enquiries from consumers looking to get money back. But we agreed with Riley that her bank could have handled things better, through giving her clearer information and attempting the chargeback more quickly.

We told the bank to pay Riley compensation to reflect the trouble she’d experienced in getting her money back.