Trading Standards Wales warn that £2 million of Welsh consumers’ money is at risk due to the lockdown and the cancellation of events, holidays and accommodation.
The Covid-19 lockdown has forced the cancellation of many holidays, bookings and events and many Welsh consumers fear they will lose out.
Complaints in Wales on the issue demonstrate consumer fear that companies will breach their contracts by failing to provide refunds and otherwise observe statutory rights.
Trading Standards Wales has reviewed these complaints for the first four months of the lockdown and has noted a 221% rise in potential consumer detriment and a 192% rise in complaints; when compared to the same period in 2019.
For the period reviewed, the value of contracts at risk was more than £2,665,000.
Here in Wrexham the figure has risen from £42,108 in 2019 to £79,832 in 2020.
It is expected that the problem will continue through the summer due to lockdown restrictions.
In times like these it is vital for consumers to know their rights and for businesses to be aware of their responsibilities.
Consumers are entitled to a refund if their holiday or event becomes impossible to provide due to the government lockdown.
Traders are of course concerned about the viability of their business and are thinking of flexible and alternative ways to both satisfy their customers and protect themselves. They may offer revised dates and alternative bookings and this may be acceptable to many customers.
Such voluntary arrangements show many customers are keen to have a holiday or event to look forward to, and have in-turn helped those businesses who are struggling due to the financial impact of the current situation.
However, it remains the case that, if a consumer insists on a refund, then the law requires a refund is given.
It is also important that should a business wish to make an alternative offer, they are truthful and honest about the customer’s rights; and should not attempt to exercise any pressure for them to accept the offer.
Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety, said: ““These have been very difficult times for traders and consumers and it’s very timely of Trading Standards Wales to issue this advice. Please be aware of what your rights are and how to exercise them if you have any doubts.”.
Helen Picton, Chair of Trading Standards Wales said “Consumers and businesses in Wales are under financial pressure of a kind never before experienced. It is important that everyone is aware of their rights and how to claim a refund. Trading Standards Wales hopes that in such difficult times the rights of consumers are protected and businesses succeed. “
If customers require further advice or information about cancelling a booking due to Covid-19 please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 2233 1144 for Welsh speakers.
Alternatively, contact them online