What happens next with Lowcostholidays. Here are your questions annwered.
What’s going on with Lowcostholidays?
Lowcostholidays was a UK budget travel agent. It relocated its headquarters to Spain in 2013, and had staff in London, Poland, and Switzerland. Its subsidiary, Lowcostbeds, only booked accommodation. Last Friday, Lowcostholidays announced that it was ceasing trade immediately, and placed into receivership.
I’ve booked with lowcostholidays, what now?
Companies selling package holidays online in Ireland are regulated by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR). As part of that, CAR operates a bonding scheme to cover customers in case an agent goes bust. That’s the good news.
What’s the bad news?
The bad news is that your cover will depend on what you booked. The CAR bond covers package holidays — flights and accommodation. What it doesn’t cover, however, is accommodation only. So if you, or your travel agent, booked a package deal through Lowcostholidays, you should be able to reclaim your costs by going to www.aviationreg.ie and filling out the form there.
However, if you yourself booked accommodation through Lowcostbeds, you will not have recourse to claim money back via the bond. If you went to a travel agent, and they booked your accommodation via Lowcostbeds, they should be able to cover you.
I’ve paid Lowcostbeds for accommodation, the hotel said they never got the payment — what do I do?
If you’re not covered by the bond as explained above, but paid by credit or debit card, get onto your bank. They will start a chargeback, whereby they refund the money customers paid to Lowcostholidays because they failed to deliver the service promised.
What else should I check?
If you paid for a package deal, there’s a strong chance they paid the airline for your flights already. Check with the airline to see if you are booked, and then check the hotel you were due to stay in for your reservation. That booking may still be in place, but unpaid. It is up to you then — either go ahead with the holiday plans, pay again for accommodation and then seek to reclaim what you paid Lowcostholidays for the hotel from the CAR, or cancel the trip and claim back the cost of the holiday.
I’m already abroad on the holiday I booked with Lowcostholidays. What does this mean for me?
Your flights should be fine, but you may get a nasty surprise when you go to check out. The hotel may not have been paid and you may be required to stump up.
I’m not booked with Lowcostholidays, but I want to avoid such a thing happening to me in future — what can I do?
There are a few options you can take to cover yourself. The most obvious is travel insurance. Prices can start from as little €20 per person so it makes sense to shop around. While you hopefully won’t need it, it’ll provide peace of mind.
Secondly, booking via your debit or credit card will give you the opportunity to ask your bank to do a chargeback if needed. For more on chargeback, see www.consumerhelp.ie/chargeback. Thirdly, travel agents are bonded and insured for such eventualities — something worth bearing in mind.
Finally, if looking to book a package deal yourself through a website, consult the CAR to ensure the company is bonded.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved