Over the past few months, concerns have been mounting over Thomas Cook’s precarious finances, and sadly, over the weekend, the long-term holiday provider teetered over the edge into compulsory liquidation. Along with the 22,000 jobs that have been lost of the people working for the 178 year old high street favourite, we also have to think about those who had booked with Thomas Cook whose flights and holidays have been thrown into disarray.
There are myriad of potential causes for the travel provider’s descent include: a “general economic downturn”, declining consumer confidence amidst political turmoil, increased competition from lower cost online rivals, “environmental concerns” and the consistently weak performance of sterling.
If you have been affected by the closure of Thomas Cook Airlines and subsequently left out of pocket as a result, read our guide below to find out how you could recover your money from your credit card company.
This is advice for those people who had booked a flight with Thomas Cook Airlines using a credit card, where the flight was cancelled due to Thomas Cook entering Administration and ceasing to trade.
Under these unusual circumstances, consumers have protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (as amended) (Section 75) in that the credit card company is liable (in the same way as Thomas Cook would be liable) for losses in respect of a breach of contract following purchases made using the credit card.
We have created a free automated claim form for consumers to use to send their claims to credit card providers
What Can I Claim For?
As long as you paid for the tickets by credit card and the ticket cost was more than £100 then you are covered by Section 75 which makes your credit card company liable in exactly the same way as Thomas Cook would be in respect of a breach of contract.
Generally, you can claim either the cost of your Thomas Cook tickets back, or alternatively, if greater, the cost of additional losses, but not the cost of the Thomas Cook tickets.
Therefore, if your Thomas Cook flights were cancelled and you incurred costs greater than the amount of your tickets, such as rearranging your travel plans, then there are a number of things you could potentially claim from for:
- Cost of tickets on alternate airline (where these cost more than your original Thomas Cook tickets).
- Cost of transport to airport if you incurred extra transport costs (perhaps due to flying from an airport further away).
- Additional accommodation costs incurred as a result of waiting extra nights for alternate flights.
- Lost holiday time due to alternate flights arriving after the original Thomas Cook flights were due to arrive.
- Other reasonable out of pocket expenses as a result of rearranged travel plans.
However, if any alternative arrangements in fact cost less than the amount you had originally paid for your Thomas Cook flights, you are probably better claiming back just the cost of your original Thomas Cook flights.
Free Letter Generation Tool
We’ve created a quick and easy template claim letter for you to send to your credit card company. All you need to do is fill in the details below along with the costs and the losses you are claiming for then press the ‘submit’ button.
You’ll be sent the claim letter with all your details in the relevant parts for you to send on to your credit card company. Simple as that!
Don’t forget when it comes to costs, check out the list above to remind you what you can claim for.
What If My New Flights Cost Less Than The Original Flights?
If you booked alternate flights and these cost less than your cancelled Thomas Cook flights then you should claim for the cost of the Thomas Cook flights rather than the cheaper new ones.
If you’ve lost holiday time or incurred additional costs as a result of the change in plans then you can claim these back from the credit card provider as well.
The Credit Card Company Has Refunded The Thomas Cook Flights – What Do I Do Next?
This is a start. However, if your alternative arrangements cost more than the original Thomas Cook flights then you may be able to claim the higher amount of the new tickets, but you may have to give credit for the refund of the Thomas Cook flight costs. In this scenario, you should also recover any additional costs incurred as a result of the change in travel plans.
What If I Had To Cancel The Trip Due To Thomas Cook Not Flying?
In some cases, particularly on short trips, the cancellation of Thomas Cook flights at short notice means it’s not feasible to arrange alternate travel. If you experienced this scenario then you should be able to claim back either the original cost of the Thomas Cook flights, or (if greater) the cost of any accommodation and prepaid transport or excursions/events.
I Had To Pay For Extra Accommodation, Can I Claim This Back?
Yes! If you have paid for accommodation as a result of changed travel plans after a cancelled Thomas Cook flight then you should be able to claim this cost from the credit card company.
You would only be able to claim reasonable costs – this means if you had booked a 3 star hotel and stayed in a 5 star hotel during any delay then this wouldn’t be considered ‘reasonable’ by the courts, unless it was the only remaining option left.
I Booked A Thomas Cook Package Holiday – Am I Protected?
Although your holiday has sadly been disrupted, it will come as reassuring news that you are covered by the ATOL protection scheme, run by the Civil Aviation Authority meaning passengers wouldn’t face any extra cost and there would be refunds for any holidays that don’t go ahead. The company explains, “Thomas Cook Tour Operations holds ATOL number 1179, so when you book with us you can be confident you’re fully financially protected.”
Will I Be Covered By My Travel Insurance Policy?
If your travel plans have been affected due to the demise of Thomas Cook, your saving grace could be your travel insurance policy. Look out for the phrase “airline failure”.
I’m Already On A Thomas Cook Holiday – How Will I Get Home?
If you’re currently on a Thomas Cook holiday and worried about how you will return home, fear not – Government officials have drawn up plans for what “Operation Matterhorn”, which is set to be “Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation”. It has been put together by the Department for Transport and the CAA, but could be very costly for UK taxpayers, with a figure of £600m circulating in the media.
I Booked My Holiday With A Thomas Cook Gift Card – Will I Be Refunded?
If you’ve used gift cards to book a holiday that is covered by ATOL, the Civil Aviation Authority says that you will get a cash refund under the ATOL scheme.
Is The Money On My Thomas Cook Cash Prepaid Card Safe?
Fortunately, yes. The issuer of the prepaid cards is separate and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Can I Claim For Transport To And From The Airport?
If you have had to make alternative travel arrangements because of the Thomas Cook cancellations and you have incurred additional transport costs to or from the airport, then you can include these extra costs in a claim against the credit card company as part of your overall claim.
What If I Had To Fly From A Different Airport?
If your Thomas Cook flight was cancelled and you had to fly to or from a different airport to get to your destination then you can claim any additional transport costs incurred as a result of the change of airport. Keep receipts of taxi fares or mileage as this will help you in your claim.
What Should I Do If The Credit Card Company Say They Won’t Pay?
The credit card company is jointly and separately liable with Thomas Cook so that any claims against Thomas Cook in respect of a breach of contract can be brought directly against the credit card company. This means that as long as your ticket price was more than £100, you can also claim any losses direct from the credit card company and let them try and go after Thomas Cook (or join the list of creditors). This is a benefit from the cost of having credit cards.
If you have made a claim against the credit card company and they refuse to pay then you may have to issue court proceedings. If the total amount of your claim is less than £10,000 then you can claim through the small claims court using the Government’s money claims online service. There is a charge for doing this, which you should recover if you are successful.
Can I Take The Claim To Court?
Absolutely. You first need to write to the credit card company to make your claim (use our free template claim letter) and then if there is no response or you’re not happy with the response then you can issue proceedings through the small claims court (for claims less than £10,000).
Will Bott And Co Take On My Claim?
For Section 75 claims as a result of Thomas Cook cancellations we don’t currently have a no-win no-fee service in place. You are welcome to instruct us to work on your claim as your legal representatives but at this stage we would only be able to do this based on an hourly rate.
If we develop a no-win no-fee service for this type of claim in future we will let you know via our website. In the meantime we have created a range of free services to help you recover money from the credit card provider directly.
How Quickly Should The Credit Card Company Pay Out?
There is no current legislation that obliges a credit company to pay out within a certain time frame under Section 75 claims. However, they can’t keep you waiting indefinitely. If you haven’t had a satisfactory response within 30 days of sending our free template letter then you could issue proceedings at this point. This gives the credit card company a further period to respond and if they fail to respond you should be able to win the claim by default.
Will This Affect My Credit Rating?
Claiming under Section 75 has nothing to do with your credit rating and any claims you might make will not impact on your credit rating.
I Missed A Business Meeting – What Can I Claim For?
This depends. If you weren’t able to travel at all then of course you can recover the cost of the unused tickets. If there were costs associated with the meeting, such as prepaid transport or meeting facilities which were greater than the ticket cost, then you should be able to recover these costs instead.
If the fact you missed the meeting has a negative commercial impact on your business then this may be more difficult, and would depend on the individual circumstances.
I Missed Part Of My Holiday – What Can I Claim For?
If you missed some of your holiday because your alternative flights were a day or two later then you had planned, then, in principle, you can claim for a proportion of the cost of your holiday. Let’s say the holiday was £700 for 7 nights (£100 per night) and you missed 2 nights, you could claim £200 as reasonable losses.
I Only Paid Part Of The Cost On My Credit Card – Can I Still Claim?
Yes! Section 75 covers you even if you only part paid with your credit card – as long as the ticket price was over £100. This means that all the other costs, transport, accommodation etc are all recoverable in principle from the credit card company as long as you paid part of the ticket cost on your credit card.
The Flights Were Less Than £100 Each – Can I Still Claim?
Section 75 only covers purchases made on credit cards where the value was more than £100. For Thomas Cook flight cancellations this requires individual flight tickets to cost more than £100 – not the overall booking cost.
If your flight tickets were less than £100 each then you won’t be covered by Section 75 and you would therefore need to rely on the goodwill of the credit card company to refund your ticket cost. It is highly unlikely you would be able to successfully recover any other costs in this situation.
I Paid On A Debit Card – Can I Still Claim?
If your flights were paid for by debit card then you won’t be covered by Section 75. This means the bank that issued your debit card is not automatically responsible for repaying the money you’ve lost as a result of the Thomas Cook Airlines cancellations.
There is a voluntary scheme called ‘charge back’ which banks have signed up to and you might be able to recover the cost of your Thomas Cook flights, or replacement flights under this scheme, but there is no guarantee as to this.
Do I Have Any Duties In Relation To My Losses?
You have a duty to try to minimise your losses wherever possible. This is called a duty to mitigate. It means that, on a case by case basis, consideration will have to be given to how you reacted to suffering certain losses, and may mean that not all of your losses are actually recoverable.
It should be noted that the information set out in this document is provided as general information. It does not constitute legal advice either generally or in relation to any particular individual. Each claim must be considered on its own facts and merits before a decision to proceed is taken. Accordingly, advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this document. If you require legal advice in relation to your circumstances, please contact us and we’d be glad to help.