Coronavirus - Your rights as an consumer

What are your rights as consumers in the light of the coronavirus pandemic?

Citizens Advice has issued the following information to help answer common questions about people's consumer rights.

The information covers flights, accommodation, events and scams.

Flights:

In the first instance you should check the terms and conditions of your booking or travel insurance to see if your situation is covered.

Airlines and organisers may offer other adjustments but your legal entitlements are:

If you have a package holiday booked and part or all of it is cancelled by the organiser/airline:

You are entitled to a refund to be provided within 14 days. Some organisers are offering alternative holidays or allowing consumers to reschedule but this is not a legal remedy

If you booked flights only and they are cancelled by the airline:

Flights that depart from the United Kingdom, European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland OR flights that arrive in these countries if you are flying on a UK/EU airline - You should be offered a choice from three alternatives:

Refund
Replacement flight
Re booking for a similar flight at the passenger's convenience if available

Non-EU flights - You will need to check the terms and conditions for the airline

If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues travel advice advising against all but essential travel:

Anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance

In this instance if the airline or travel agent cancels your trip they should, in most cases, offer a refund or replacement. Check what your terms and conditions say.

If the airline or travel provider does not cancel your trip, you may be covered by your travel insurance.

If there isn't any FCO guidance and you decide to cancel your trip:

If you have booked flights only, you should check with their provider what is being offered but there is no legal requirement for airlines to give a refund

If you have booked a package deal, you have the right to cancel the package at any time before the package starts, however, the organiser can charge an appropriate and justifiable fee which should be outlined in the terms and conditions.

Consumers are unlikely to be able to claim compensation for inconvenience or loss of enjoyment as the issue is due to circumstances beyond the control of the airline or holiday provider.

Accommodation:

This will depend on what your terms and conditions are.

If you booked a non-refundable room and choose to cancel your booking because you are worried, you are unlikely to be entitled to a refund from either the provider or your travel insurance

But if the FCO advises against all but essential travel to the location where your hotel is then you need to check your travel insurance and the terms and conditions of your accommodation

If you have booked a refundable room and cancel according to the terms and conditions then you should get a refund from the provider

If it is part of a package then you would need to check with the organiser

Event cancellation/ postponement:

Ticket holders who change their mind about going to see a concert or event that is still going ahead have no legal right to a refund

If, however, you bought your ticket from an official seller and the organiser cancels, moves, reschedules, or makes the event behind closed doors, you should get a refund. The official seller is the best person to ask about how to get a refund

If you bought your ticket from a ticket-reselling website, refunds will depend on the site's terms and conditions

If you bought from a private seller and the event is cancelled or rescheduled then it is unlikely you will be able to recover your money. We recommend you contact the seller

If you're due to go to an event, keep checking the information from the official seller or organiser to ensure you're up to date

Scams:

Unfortunately we've found that in these situations scammers prey on those who are affected. If you're contacted by someone offering to act for you to recover your money make sure that you're looking out for the signs of a potential scam.

If you think you have been scammed, you need to take steps to protect yourself. These could include calling the police if you feel threatened and contacting your bank to let it know what has happened. For more information see what to do if you think you've been scammed.

For further information and advice, ring the Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or contact us here

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