Brussels launches process over passenger ‘vouchers’

in News · 02-07-2020 14:29:00 · 1 Comments

The European Commission on 2 July decided to launch infringement proceedings against Portugal and nine other Member States for violating EU laws on passenger rights, namely the issue of vouchers, instead of refunds, in the framework of covid-19.

Brussels stresses that, throughout the covid-19 crisis, “it has consistently made it clear that consumer rights remain valid in the current unprecedented context and that national measures to support industry should not diminish them”, but points out that 10 Member States have applied national rules “that allow package travel organisers to issue travel vouchers, rather than cash refunds, for cancelled trips, or to postpone reimbursement well beyond the 14-day period” provided for in the legislation.

"Under EU law, however, passengers have the right to choose between cash refunds and other forms of refunds, such as a 'voucher'. Therefore, the Commission decided to send letters of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia”, says the Community executive.

Brussels warns that "the Member States concerned now have two months to reply to the Commission and take the necessary steps to fill the gaps identified by the Commission, otherwise the Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions", the second and final stage of infringement procedure before the possible appeal to the EU Court of Justice.

The Commission recalls that in mid-May it adopted a specific recommendation on 'vouchers' in the context of the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, “to support Member States in creating attractive, reliable and flexible voucher systems”, having at that time alerted Portugal and 11 other countries to the possibility of instituting infringement proceedings, if it did not obtain satisfactory responses within two weeks.

On 4 June, the Government indicated that it was considering a revision of the legislation adopted temporarily for tourism due to the covid-19 pandemic, following the warning from Brussels.

In a written reply sent to the Lusa agency, the Government then indicated that it had already responded to the community executive, emphasising to the European institution that the decree-law adopted last April with measures related to the tourism sector, within the scope of the pandemic, has an “exceptional and temporary regime”.

And also pointed out to the European Commission that this legislation - which provides for the issuance of 'vouchers' in the event of cancellation of trips organised by tourism agencies and reservations in tourist developments and local accommodation establishments - “met the broadest possible consensus, whether from part of the economic operators, be it from the consumers”, taking into account the “exceptional circumstances associated with the pandemic”, according to the response sent by the Ministry of Economy to Lusa.

In the recommendations presented in May for the resumption of transport services within the Community, the European Commission asked Member States to make the choice of vouchers “a viable and attractive alternative to the reimbursement of package trips and transport services cancelled in the context of the pandemic”, suggesting that these vouchers should be covered by protection (public or private) in case of insolvency, in order to attract more customers.

On the occasion, Brussels also clarified that these 'vouchers' must be refundable if they are not used within 12 months.

For cases where the customer is only given the option of receiving a 'voucher' due to the cancellation of their trip, the European Commission has advised them to insist on a refund or to make a complaint to the national consumer protection authorities.


Comments:

I requested a refund for flights booked to travel in June with Aer Lingus. No only have they refused a refund even though they cancelled the flight they gave me a voucher that is not in my name. When I asked why I was told there is a glitch in Aerlingus System and any vouchers issued were not issued in the lead persons name. Is this another delaying tactic by aerlingus. When will the glitch be fixed. ?

By Denise from Other on 03-07-2020 10:45
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