Martin Lewis has issued new advice for customers affected by Ryanair flight cancellations amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Irish airline has currently cancelled all commercial flights until June.
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Though initially told they would be refunded, the airline’s latest policy amendment is making it increasingly difficult for customers to claim back their money.
Ryanair has warned customers that if they are seeking a refund they will only receive the owed amount into their bank accounts “once this crisis has passed.”
The airline is offering free changed for flights until to May 31, as well as issuing vouchers for future travel.
The vouchers can then be exchanged for a cash refund after 12 months if they have chosen not to fly.
In an email to customers, the airline explained: “As our payment agents are required to stay at home in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, payment security restrictions prevent us from processing cash refunds.”
The email continued: “We highly recommend using the refund voucher as these are readily available and you can book flights on all Ryanair Group airlines in over 200 designations in Europe and the Middle East.”
However, given the current financial climate, this is worrying news for many.
After receiving complaints from customers who felt they were going “round in circles” Martin and his Money Saving Expert team have stepped up to help customers reunite with their cash as soon as possible.
1. Try using Ryanair’s live chat feature
Customers seeking a cash refund report being told to contact Ryanair directly, despite having already contacted them initially, sparking what Money Saving Expert describes as a “deja vu” moment for many.
Ryanair’s website offers a live chat service where customers are able to speak to a customer service agent, and this is more likely to gain you a response than an email, according to the experts.
However, they also note that many customers have reported long wait times
One Twitter user named Katy said she had “been in live chat queue since 9:30 am and it’s now 2:45 pm.”
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2. Try to get your Ryanair refund via a chargeback
Martin suggests going to your credit card company and requesting a chargeback if you are having issues gaining a refund directly from Ryanair.
A chargeback is a customer service promise offered by card providers.
Though this is not legal protection, it is a process which works for Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Martin says: “It tends to be the quickest way of getting your money back – effectively you’re disputing the transaction as you’ve paid for something you’ve not received.”
However, the Money Saving Expert team found that a “number of Ryanair customers who have approached their bank say their chargeback request was turned down because Ryanair has already provided a voucher.”
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3. Try to get your Ryanair refund via Section 75
Customers who have used a credit card to purchase their tickets, and have spent more than £100, are entitled to apply for a refund via Section 75.
“With Section 75 you get the stronger legal protection that the card company is jointly liable – though Section 75 is only for credit card payments over £100,” explains Martin.
However, he warns that you should always pursue a chargeback before bringing up Section 75.
“That’s because under the chargeback process, which is part of the Visa, Mastercard or Amex rules, your bank is asking for money back from Ryanair’s bank, which your bank is unlikely to have an issue doing,” he explains.
“If you claim under Section 75 though, you are asking the credit card company itself to cover you, and while they may be legally obliged to do this, they are likely to be much more reticent to.
“So it’s worth trying Section 75 only if chargeback fails. And with both, if you are rejected you have the right to go on to the free Financial Ombudsman who can adjudicate.”
To claim a Section 75 reimbursement customers will need to go directly to their bank and explain the situation.
The next steps vary across banks, but often it includes providing further detail and evidence of your purchase.
4. Contact the Civil Aviation Authority
As a very last resort, customers can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) though this should only be done if they have pursued every other avenue to no avail.
A complaint can be made using the dedicated form on the CAA’s website.
Ryanair maintains that it is offering a number of options to customers and is working to do all it can amid the current climate. They add that refunds will be issued eventually.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “For any cancelled flight, Ryanair is giving customers all of the options set out under EU regulations, including free moves and refunds in the form of cash or vouchers. The processing time for cash refunds is taking longer due to the fact we are having to process 10,000 times the usual volume of cancellations and have fewer staff available due to social-distancing measures.
“Ryanair is offering vouchers and free moves as these are automated and would give customers an alternative. Customers who choose a voucher but don’t redeem it within 12 months may still apply for and obtain a refund after this 12-month period. This also includes partial redemption, as the portion of the unused voucher will be refunded.
“Customers who choose not to accept a free move or voucher will be refunded in due course, once this unprecedented crisis is over.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we thank our customers for bearing with us.”
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