Martin Lewis reveals how to get your money back for cancelled spa & hotel experiences

Coronavirus lockdown has put normal life on hold as across the world people are being told to stay at home and avoid going out unless absolutely essential. What’s more, a series of border lockdowns and travel bans have seen airlines, hotels and all kinds of travel plans thrown into a state of disarray.


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While experts have shared insight into how to get money back from tour operators and airlines, those with bookings closer to home may be left feeling dismayed.

Many Britons looking forward to spa treatments in the coming months could be left with spoiled plans as a result of closures.

However, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has revealed insight into what customers should do and how they can get a full refund, even if the spa or booking provider is not currently paying out.

Appearing on the Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live, the financial expert shared some of his top tips, as well as offering advice on when you should consider asking for a refund.

How can I get my money back?

The first port of call to getting a refund for your cancelled booking is to go directly to the spa accommodation itself or the booking service used to book the experience.

However, if customers are unable to get a refund this way, a chargeback may be the way to go.

Martin explains: “What you could try is a chargeback if you paid by debit or credit card.

“On both debit and credit card, you are entitled to a chargeback.

“Go to your bank and say: ‘Look I paid for this, there’s no service and they are offering me a voucher which is not what I intended and not in the terms and conditions when signed up.’”

A chargeback is a return of money to the consumer.


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According to consumer rights advocate Which?’s website: “Chargeback lets you ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card.

“You have more rights if you spend more than £100 on your credit card.”

This is often favoured by merchants as it means taking the money back from a company, rather than the card provider itself having to payout.

Martin continues: “Now that’s probably the easiest attempt to try is to go for a chargeback, and there are guides online where you can read about credit and debit card chargebacks.”

What if the terms and conditions of my booking have changed?

Many travel and event organisers are now changing their terms and conditions amid the coronavirus to account for cancellations or disruptions due to the pandemic.

As Martin points out: “Clearly a change of terms and conditions is perfectly acceptable but the terms and conditions at the time you have booked are the ones you have signed up to.

“If the terms and conditions have been changed after you booked they should not relate to your booking.”

Customers who booked in advance should still be entitled to a refund, even if the new terms and conditions rule this out for new bookings.


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“It doesn’t matter what’s on the website now, what applies legally is the terms and conditions at the point you booked.

“Now, when you book something like this you are generally, in the event that they cancel, entitled to a full refund. Look, we are getting this with lots of companies including easyJet who are offering vouchers.

“What would I do? The problem with this is the only way of enforcing this is taking them to court.

“That involves them having the money and some of these companies, the way they work their cash flow, they may not have the cash to give the refund because of their payouts and the way they tend to be working.

“In normal times the legal answer is that it’s outrageous, sue them. But this is not normal times. They may not have the money.”

In what circumstances should I take a credit note or voucher?

Many travel, tour and experience providers – such as those who offer spa packages – are encouraging customers to take vouchers to rebook their plans in the future, rather than seek a refund.

Amid unprecedented economic times, businesses around the globe are falling into administration and rapidly running out of money.

Martin says customers should consider “ethics and morality” before pursuing a cash refund.

Those who would not find themselves in a “financial bind” by accepting vouchers over a refund are encouraged to do so.

He explains: “I would say in this day and age we are trying to keep as many companies surviving as we can.

“If you can take the voucher and that wouldn’t compromise you and your finances taking that voucher form this company may just be what keeps this company going and keeps its staff in a job.

“So I’m not telling anybody to do that, I’m saying we must all look at our own personal, ethics, morality and situation which is very important to decide how hard we are going to push in these unprecedented times.”

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