Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Somebody out there has our money, how do we get it back?' - Holidaymakers devastated after Lowcostholidays agency goes bust

Catherine Devine

Published 18/07/2016 | 10:56

Holidaymakers who booked their holidays with the bust UK travel agency Lowcostholidays said they have lost thousands of euro following the company’s closure on Friday evening.

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Tom Murphy who is already on his holidays told Newstalk Breakfast that he is out €1600 after booking his holiday with the travel agency.

“Yesterday evening we were going into town for lunch and our daughter rang to tell us that the company had gone bust," Mr Murphy said.

"Our flights were booked and paid for but we’d have to arrive at the hotel and we’d have to pay for the hotel again so we’re down about €1600. Somebody out there has our money; somebody out there knows where it is. How do we get it back?”

Mary Geary from Cork told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that she lost €1100 on a holiday to Majorca that she booked in September for her and her boyfriend.

“I woke up on Saturday morning and a friend of mine had sent me a link that she saw on Facebook and it said that Lowcostholidays had gone bust. I was dumbfounded. I was in shock because have used them numerous times over the last three or four years and I never had any problems and I didn’t expect this to happen,” she said.

“I tried to get information and thought maybe emails had come through but we heard nothing whatsoever from the company.

"We spent €1100 and I’m very doubtful I’ll get any of it back because on the fine print at the bottom of the email from Lowcostholidays it says that unless it’s stated in your travel insurance that if a company goes bust I mightn’t get anything from them.

"I rang my bank this morning even the rigmarole that we have to go through there to even try make a claim.

“I’m disappointed it’s my birthday in September and it was the first proper holiday for my boyfriend and me and to be honest the thought of losing €1100 is very frustrating,” she said.

Meave from Galway also called into Morning Ireland to say she doubts she’ll get refunded the €820 she spent on a Lowcostholiday to Salou in October.

“It would have been my first holiday in seven years and our first family holiday. The whole holiday including the insurance they gave me was €820. I don’t think I’ll get to see any of that money back and I’m on disability allowance as well. I’d like to be compensated because that’s an awful lot of money,” she said.

Pat Dawson the CEO of the Irish Travel Agency Association said that people who booked full holidays with Lowcostholidays will be able to reclaim their money.

Dawson told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that if you booked a full holiday with flights and a hotel room through travel agents that customers are “covered”.

“Anybody booked with Lowcostholidays can go to aviationreg.ie and they will have a form to claim money back so they’re covered,” he said.

He said people may have to rebook their accommodation as it’s likely that their bookings under Lowcostholidays will be cancelled but that people can claim the  payment through the The Commission for Aviation Regulation.

He explained that people who used Lowcostbeds which are part of the group but sold beds only are not covered under the aviation bond but that people should check with their credit card companies or travel agencies to see if they’re covered.

“They could (end up paying twice) because there’s no legislation to cover bed banks and accommodation only providers. They’re not covered but I’d advise them to talk to their credit card companies and they certainly should have some cover. They should be able to stop the payment going through.

 “I’d urge people to contact the commission of aviation. They will be trained to sort many of these problems out but more importantly the people who are members of travel agents those members have contacted the vast majority of their customers and they’re sorted out because the travel agents are looking after them.

He said that Lowcostholidays carry 90,000 people in 12 months out of Ireland and that up to 15,000 people are likely to be impacted by the travel agent’s closure in the next three weeks.

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