French group will ‘fight in court’ for Covid travel refunds

A man holds a 100 euro note. French group will ‘fight in court’ for Covid travel refunds if necessary
A French consumer group has said they will fight in court for customers' right to receive refunds on trips cancelled due to Covid-19.

A French consumer association fighting for the public’s right to refunds on trips that were cancelled due to Covid-19 has said it is prepared to take the case to the country’s highest administrative court if necessary.

Consumer association CLCV (Consommation Logement Cadre de Vie) has said it is ready to go before le Conseil d’Etat to defend the rights of travellers to receive a refund for cancelled trips.

On March 25, France issued an order saying that any trips that had been organised which were cancelled from March 1 to September 15 due to Covid-19, may be postponed for up to 18 months, via a “credit note” (called an “avoir” in French). This included long weekends and independent services such as accommodation and car hire.

But Jean-Yves Mano, president of the CLCV, said that this was not acceptable and that customers should be entitled to a full refund, not just a postponement.

He told news service FranceInfo: “The French government knows that its order is totally outside of the law because, at a European level, reimbursement starts from the moment your trip is cancelled.”

He said: “It is not up to consumers to save the tourism sector...If the government doesn’t act, we will fight the order at the Conseil d’Etat.”

The statement comes after the European Commission wrote to all 27 EU countries, including France, that consumer rights should still be respected, even in the current situation.

Read more: Travel firms must offer cancellation refunds - EU

Refund controversy

Travel companies’ obligation to offer refunds for cancelled journeys due to Covid-19 has been a contentious issue since the crisis began.

Airlines especially have “pleaded” for a change in the law, to allow them to avoid giving refunds, and instead issue travel vouchers.

But the EU has repeatedly said - and written directly to all 27 EU states - that companies must offer the right to refund for all passengers for a cancelled trip, and that to do so is not a choice, but a legal obligation.

Meanwhile, other travel companies, such as Brittany Ferries, have taken a different option.

The ferry firm said that it will give refunds to all passengers who had their Channel crossings cancelled during the confinement period if they choose not to take up their offer of a credit note, which is valid for two years. It is up to the client to ask for the refund if that is their preferred option.

Related stories

Covid-19: can I get a refund for a cancelled journey?

Covid-19 France: Travel cancellation policies

Airlines plead for law change over refunds

Brittany Ferries and refunds for cancelled trips

How the French tourism industry is coping post-Covid-19

French PM: ‘Public can holiday in France’ this summer

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