Vacation Rentals, the holiday firm behind Cottages.com and Hoseasons, has now agreed to give customers refunds for trips which have had to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that the holiday firm changed its policy, which previously did not allow refunds, after action by the regulator.
Complaints about holiday lettings
The CMA said that a large proportion of complaints it received about holiday lettings were regarding Vacation Rentals.
In a statement, the authority explained, "The CMA's Covid-19 Taskforce has so far received around 4,500 reports about UK holiday rental companies, with complaints about Vacation Rentals making up a significant proportion of those reports."
Vacation Rentals runs 22 brands, including Welcome Cottages and Blue Chip Holidays, offering holiday lets in the UK, alongside Ireland Italy, and France. However, the holiday firm said it has been offering refunds to customers since 30 April.
A Vacation Rentals spokesman said that this date is when the CMA published guidance to travel firms on consumer rights and refunds.
A spokesman for Vacation Rentals said, "Following the CMA's statement on 30 April clarifying its view on the law on cancellations of consumer contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic, we acted immediately and expanded the options available to any customers who were due to travel during the government imposed lockdown period to include a full cash refund.
"By the time the CMA's investigation into our business commenced, we were already acting in line with the CMA's guidance."
The competition watchdog said that Vacation Rentals voluntarily changed its policy after originally failing to offer refunds to all customers whose trips were cancelled.
Full refunds now offered
The CMA said that Vacation Rentals has now given a formal commitment that customers will have the option of a full refund, if a booking has been cancelled because of restrictions associated with the coronavirus crisis.
The organisation is hoping that this success will encourage other companies to pay full refunds.
There are plenty of other companies which are reluctant to pay full refunds. In some cases they argue that they are simply the agents and should not be liable to pay.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said, "Our Covid-19 Taskforce is working hard to ensure that consumers get what they are entitled to, so it's good news that Vacation Rentals has agreed to offer people the refunds they are due. We welcome this step and other holiday lets firms must now follow suit."