Those who know me will be aware that I am passionate about consumer rights. In this respect, I am fortunate to have 20 years’ experience as a lawyer behind me, during which I have been named Consumer Lawyer of the Year 2018, 2019 and 2020. I am also in a unique position of having a good media platform, via my columns in the Daily Express every Thursday and Sunday People every week and the Consumer Hour radio show on LBC every Sunday. Utilising these tools, I am able to educate people on their consumer rights and help where an injustice is done.
This week I’ve been contacted by literally thousands of people who have booked a holiday via sykesholidaycottages.co.uk and, despite their holiday now being cancelled following the Covid-19 pandemic, have been refused a refund. The various scenarios I’ve heard so far are:
- “my refund request has been rejected, they say I can only change the dates”
- “I’m happy to change the dates of my holiday, but if I do, they now want double the price”
- “They said I can have a refund, but I’ve heard no further from them”
- “They told me that its up to the owner of the property to agree to a refund, they have no power”
- “I’ve heard that many of the property owners are happy to provide refunds but Sykes are telling them that they will levy a hefty cancellation fee upon the property owner”
None of the above is acceptable, although I should say that I have not yet received confirmation from Sykes as to what their legal position is in this regard. However, I have seen the following statement, from a Sykes spokesperson cited on ‘North Wales Live’:
“In line with the latest government advice not to visit second homes or holiday cottages, we are strongly advising customers with bookings that commence before the end of April not to travel, but to amend their bookings on our website. We are also not taking any new bookings for travel before June 4.
“Without further government guidance, however, we are currently unable to cancel contracts between customers and property owners.
“We take our responsibilities as a holiday provider and employer extremely seriously and are working hard to safeguard our customers, colleagues and property owners while playing our part to reduce transmission.”
I WANT TO HELP all those that are seeking a refund and to be clear this help is FREE. I have therefore today set up the ‘Sykes Holiday Cottages Legal Refund Group’ and I’m calling on anyone affected by this, and who would like assistance to fill out the form below (unless you’ve already completed a contact us form on the site today). I will then be writing to Sykes formally and asking them to refund each person signed up to the Group.
In the interests of being fair and balanced, I will publish any comment Sykes makes (and agrees to be made public) on this website and I will be asking if they would like to field a representative to join me on LBC Radio to explain their position and what they are doing to help their customers. In this respect, some people I have spoken to may obviously have misinterpreted communications from Sykes, so it is important that they are given the chance to publish/air their official position and any comments they wish to make in addition to the statement they gave to North Wales Live (above).
I will also post on this site template letters that can be used to make a ‘section 75’ claim (if you paid with your credit card), or ‘Chargeback’ claim (if you paid with your debit card).
Time to get some refunds….