What can travel agents do
Actually there is a money-back obligation: If the tour operator cancels the vacation, he has to reimburse the costs. The same goes for airlines and their flight tickets. In the course of the corona crisis, however, some consumers are left hanging.
The legal situation is clear
Yes, there are some cases where consumers are waiting for their travel price to be reimbursed, reports Thomas Bradler, a lawyer at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center. "Some travel providers play a bit on time because the voucher solution is still in the room." According to the wishes of the federal government and the travel industry, tour operators and airlines should be allowed to offer vouchers instead of repayments - even against the wishes of the customer. The decision, however, lies with the EU Commission in Brussels and is still pending.
Some travel providers apparently take advantage of the uncertainty: "Some refuse the repayment even with reference to the voucher solution, as if it were already law," says Bradler and clarifies: "But that is not the case." The practice in question applies to both Organizers as well as airlines. However, there are also many cases in which the money is actually paid out.
According to the lawyer, the repayment claim is legally clearly defined: In the case of package tours, the money must be repaid within 14 days of the cancellation of the trip. For individually booked EU-related air travel, the deadline is seven days from the request for payment, as Bradler explains.
What consumers can do
“First of all, you should consider whether you want the money back directly or whether you want to leave it with the organizer out of solidarity so that there is no risk of bankruptcy,” says Bradler. That would mean accepting a voucher that can usually be used flexibly for new trips until the end of 2021.
But not every vacationer can and wants to do that. If the repayment is a long time coming, consumers can turn to the provider in writing in a second step and claim the money back within a deadline, so the consumer advocate. This period should be at least seven days.
Give in when in doubt?
If the organizer or the airline doesn't react, things will be difficult. If you want to enforce your claim with the help of a lawyer, you should keep in mind that the voucher solution could still become law - also retrospectively, emphasizes Bradler. "Then I might stay at my expense."
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The travel industry is doing massive lobbying for the voucher solution, says Bradler. In the current situation, his recommendation is: "I would advise you to wait and see if you are not extremely dependent on the money."
It is currently unclear when the EU Commission will make a decision. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a few days ago that people across Europe could legally choose whether they wanted the money or a voucher. (dpa / tmn)
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