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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 24 September 2020
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Here's what to do if you booked a break with Low Cost Holidays

It’s far from an ideal situation, but there may be ways to get your money back.

shutterstock_249824956 Source: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

THE FAILURE OF international travel retailer Low Cost Holidays (LCH) last Friday evening has left thousands of holidaymakers across Europe in a position of some uncertainty.

Ireland is no exception – LCH via lowcostholidays.ie is a registered travel agent here – and that sees an estimated 15,000 Irish travellers caught in limbo.

Some have yet to travel, many are already abroad, but the two associations most directly involved in the farrago (the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) and the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR)) from an Irish point of view have spoken out this morning.

We can’t sugar-coat it, it sounds like a dreadful situation – at the very least it will be a paper-forms nightmare followed by a long wait for reimbursement – but still, all may not be lost.

lch

The relevant advice really depends on what kind of holiday you booked. Things are at their most uncertain should you have booked accommodation only via a travel agent and lowcostbeds.com.

Here’s the main points regarding what you should do if you have a holiday booked with LCH:

  • Contact LCH directly to see if what you have already paid for will be honoured
  • If the answer is no, you must contact the commission – LCH Ireland has a bond with the CAR which means that should LCH fail to fulfil its obligations the money can be reimbursed from the commission
  • This is the case for both people who have yet to travel and also those who are already abroad
  • If you are abroad you may have to pay for your hotel accommodation a second time. In this case you should contact the CAR seeking reimbursement. However, no solution for those who can’t afford to pay for accommodation a second time has been offered
  • Receipts, invoices, and bills will be necessary in order to process your claim. The relevant claim forms should be on the CAR website by this evening
  • Once your claim is in, you can expect to wait weeks if not months for it to be processed unfortunately
  • If you are unlucky enough to have booked accommodation but not a full package with LCH Ireland, then things are murkier. David Hodnett of CAR has said that respite may be sought from either your credit card company or via any travel insurance package you may have, but not from the CAR itself.
  • In such cases you’ll have to get onto your card company or insurer. Fingers crossed. “Get onto you card company,” Hodnett says. “They may be able to stop the payment”.

Earlier, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson told RTÉ Morning Ireland that it is “people who are already away who are being particularly badly affected”.

“This shouldn’t have happened, this is a huge company we’re talking about here,” he said, while also bemoaning the fact that LCH went bust at 4.30pm on a Friday evening “when they know no-one will be able to contact them over the weekend”.

We are just lucky here that we are bonded by the CAR. British tourists will have to go through LCH itself in Spain.

Dawson said that one unlucky Irish family he spoke to over the weekend had spent €14,000 on an all-inclusive holiday with LCH, while a soon-to-be-married couple he had talked to had spent €3,000 on an accommodation-only trip to Mexico.

“It’s terribly distressing for all those who are caught up in it,” Hodnett told Morning Ireland.

“Dumbfounded”

Earlier, Morning Ireland spoke to two Irish women who had holidays booked for the coming months with LCH.

“I’m dumbfounded, still in shock,” said Mary Geary, who was due to travel to Mallorca with her boyfriend in September.

I’ve used them numerous times in the last three or four years. I certainly didn’t expect this. We’ve heard nothing whatsoever from the company.

Mary says that she is “very doubtful” as to whether or not she will get her money back.

It was to be my first holiday with my boyfriend, and the thought of losing €1,100 is very, very frustrating. Even the rigmarole we’ll have to go through with Visa.

Niamh Harrigan meanwhile was also due to travel to Spain for her “first holiday in seven years, and our first as a family”.

“I paid €800 and I’m on disability benefit as well,” she says.

I’d like to be compensated. €800 is a lot of money to me – I’m living on a pittance as it is.

Read: Tens of thousands of holidaymakers affected as Lowcostholidays goes bust

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