03 Dec

ABTA continues its lobbying on chargebacks by sharing Member evidence with Small Business Minister 

ABTA is continuing to act on the issue of unfair credit and debit card chargebacks on behalf of Members, lobbying on this matter and providing guidance. This week we have written to Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, sharing evidence and insight from Members on the increasing problems that the travel industry, particularly SMEs, are experiencing with chargeback schemes.

In particular ABTA highlighted:

  • The problem of ‘double dipping’ whereby customers are getting a refund from the travel company and their credit card provider – meaning the travel business pays twice.
  • Late notification of a chargeback claim, including some cases where the trader has been notified of the claim after the deadline supplied for appealing the decision.
  • Chargebacks that appear to have been lodged against the wrong trader in the chain, with the consumer pursuing intermediary travel agents rather than the principal of the contract, the tour operator. 
  • The very high number of reports of difficulties with the dispute process, which is frequently resulting in large financial losses, even where traders can provide evidence that chargebacks are ill-founded.
  • ABTA has called on the Government to set up an urgent meeting with government officials and representatives of UK Finance to address this matter. 

ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, Luke Petherbridge said:

“The chargeback system is failing reputable travel companies, with the dispute resolution system appearing to be at risk of systemic collapse under the volume of COVID-related claims. 

“All too often banks and merchant acquirers are applying insufficient checks to ensure that chargeback claims are justified. The wide-ranging problems with chargebacks are adding to the extremely difficult trading conditions and are being acutely felt by our travel agent Members in particular. The additional cost is putting the future of some travel companies at risk. 

“We are continuing to lobby the Government and finance industry on this issue and Members now have access to free advice from our Partner phoneline.”

ABTA says that it has consistently stated support for the chargebacks system, which in ordinary times acts to ensure consumers can enforce their rights under the Consumer Credit Act, but claims that there is strong evidence that the dispute resolution system behind the scheme is failing, and that proper scrutiny is not being applied during the COVID-19 crisis.

As well as lobbying the Government and finance industry on this issue, ABTA has set up a free adviceline for Members, through ABTA’s partner scheme, to assist Members with problems with chargebacks. 


Notes to editors
ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for 70 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. 

The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members. 

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.