TONY HETHERINGTON: Tesco cruises to save canceled trip

Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday investigator, fighting readers’ corners, revealing the truth behind closed doors and winning victories for those left behind. Find out how to contact him below.

PW writes: We booked through JTA Travel for a trip with Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Due to the pandemic, the trip was canceled and we agreed with JTA Travel to book at a later date, but Cruise and Maritime then went out of business.

We were told we would get a full refund of the cost of £ 2,670 as customers were protected by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

However, ABTA itself says JTA Travel has to reimburse us, so we’re caught in the middle.

Refund: ABTA was slow to decide who was responsible for the canceled cruise

Tony Hetherington replies: It is never pleasant to be trapped between two companies, each agreeing to be entitled to a refund, but at the same time blaming themselves for not having paid the money. It comes back to the question of whether JTA Travel was acting as a travel agent or tour operator. If it was just a booking agent, ABTA’s compensation system would cover your losses. But if JTA Travel went beyond that and organized much more than your cruise booking then it could be classified as a tour operator, and since it is still operating from its Birmingham base it would be responsible for reimbursing you.

ABTA’s verdict was that JTA Travel should foot the bill. He explained: “Our decision was based on the travel documents which confirmed that JTA was acting as a tour operator and as such they retain full responsibility for your travel arrangements or any reimbursements owed to you. ”

Not surprisingly, JTA Travel was not happy with this. He did not want to pay and said he was consulting his lawyers. And all that would tell me is that he was having “ongoing conversations” with ABTA. He refused to accept your version of events, but at the same time refused to say what was wrong with what you told me.

However, surely ABTA has the power to order JTA Travel to pay or face the eviction and loss of the valuable insurance that ABTA membership offers its customers? It’s a simple question, but trying to get a simple answer from ABTA was like trying to nail jelly to the wall.

ABTA directed me to its code of conduct. It’s 16 pages with two more documents at the top and a 47 page guide where I finally found out that ABTA expects refunds to be issued within 14 days, and certainly within 30 days at the latest. But then ABTA pulled the rug out from under me, admitting to me that despite the decision that JTA Travel was a tour operator and should issue a refund, in fact, it was still in talks with the Birmingham company.

Vacationers rely heavily on ABTA to regulate its members and, if necessary, enforce its decisions. Not having your decisions implemented, then having doubts, is not reassuring. ABTA clearly gave you the impression that it had made up its mind and ordered JTA Travel to reimburse you. But he beat around the bush when I asked about his enforcement powers. And finally, he started chewing this with JTA Travel again, like he did months ago.

Then, at the very last minute, an unexpected fairy godmother arrived in the form of Tesco Bank. You paid for the cruise with your Tesco bank card, and strictly speaking, you are far too late to ask the bank to collect the money from you. But that’s exactly what the bank did.

Because you have been spoiled by ABTA and JTA Travel, Tesco Bank will credit your card with the full amount of £ 2,670. The bank will then fight with JTA Travel, and you told me you would help with all the necessary evidence. Whoever wins this fight, it seems to me that ABTA will be the real loser in terms of reputation.

Why all the hassle of chopping up insurance from the bank?

LB writes: For many years we have had a Lloyds Bank checking account with free insurance for cell phones, travel, AA outage, and lost cards.

We never used the insurance so when Lloyds announced their intention to charge £ 14.95 per month in the future we decided to cancel the cover.

However, our branch says we need to close the account and open a new one, and first we need to make an appointment to discuss it with a consultant.

Options: According to Lloyds, insurance can be terminated via internet banking, or by phone

Options: According to Lloyds, insurance can be terminated via internet banking, or by phone

Tony Hetherington replies: According to Lloyds, insurance can be terminated through online banking, which you don’t have, or over the phone, although you’ve found the number to be permanently committed. The third option was to cancel the insurance by going to your branch, but when you did, the manager and staff said they couldn’t just remove the insurance. You should have a meeting with a “consultant”, who I imagine is a salesperson.

I asked the bank to explain to me and a spokesperson told me that you can upgrade to a regular account with the same sort code and account number, so all of your direct debits and provisions similar would remain unchanged. But you still had to make an appointment to see a consultant, even if the bank itself changed the goals and a meeting could involve a work stoppage.

The bank’s complaints department has now credited your account with £ 30 apologizing for the poor service, and if you want to stay with Lloyds the staff say they will arrange to call you rather than wait. that you call them.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or send an email to [email protected] Due to the high volume of requests, personal responses cannot be given. Please send only copies of the original documents, which we regret that we cannot be returned.

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