MORE than 9,000 customers have been promised refunds for cancelled holidays, after a consumer watchdog announced has agreed to repay a total of £7 million.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the company has agreed to repay at least half the customers by December 16, and the rest no later than January 31.

Anyone entitled to a refund for cancellations on or after Thursday will be paid within 14 days, the CMA added.

After receiving hundreds of complaints that was not issuing refunds for trips cancelled due to the pandemic, the watchdog began an investigation into package holiday firms following concerns that refunds across the sector are being delayed.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Online travel agents have a legal responsibility to provide prompt refunds to customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to coronavirus – irrespective of whether the agent received refunds from airlines and accommodation providers.

“Our action today means that customers whose holidays were cancelled by will receive their money back without undue delay.

“The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms following concerns that people are not getting the refunds they’re entitled to when bookings can’t go ahead because of the pandemic.

“If we find that businesses are breaching consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action.”

In October, the CMA secured a commitment from Virgin Holidays that it will refund all customers “without undue delay” after hundreds of complaints were made over delayed payments.

The watchdog also wrote to more than 100 package holiday firms in July to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer law, and received refund commitments from Tui, Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals.

Package holiday customers are legally entitled to refunds within 14 days for cancelled trips.

However, as travel firms face a cashflow crisis, many people whose holiday hopes were dashed have been left waiting months for a pay-out.