Thomas Cook customers still awaiting holiday refunds despite fast-approaching deadline.

Fifty days after the collapse of Thomas Cook, all the package holidaymakers booked with the firm who applied for refunds on the first possible day are still being promised full refunds by 6 December.

Yet the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has declined to say if anyone who paid for a Thomas Cook holiday with a card or cheque has yet been reimbursed.

The travel giant closed down on 23 September, leaving debts of £3bn – and 800,000 prospective travellers who had paid for future holidays.

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Those who paid by direct debit should all have been refunded, at least according to the current CAA statement: “All automatic direct debit refunds are on track to be returned to customers by Monday 14 October.”

The operation is relatively straightforward, involving simply reversing direct-debit payments made to Thomas Cook customers after security checks have been made.

Thomas Cook collapse: Passengers stranded and thousands of jobs lost

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Antalya, Turkey
Mallorca, Spain
Peterborough headquarters
Mallorca

Thomas Cook collapse: Passengers stranded and thousands of jobs lost

Antalya, Turkey

1/21 Antalya, Turkey

British passengers with Thomas Cook wait in long queue at Antalya airport in Turkey

AP

Mallorca, Spain

2/21 Mallorca, Spain

Reuters

Peterborough headquarters

3/21 Peterborough headquarters

People carry bags and boxes outside the Peterborough headquarters. A total of 22,000 jobs - including 9,000 in UK - to be lost following administration

PA

Mallorca

4/21 Mallorca

More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

AFP/Getty

Manchester Airport

5/21 Manchester Airport

The group failed to reach a last-ditch rescue deal, triggering the UK's biggest repatriation since World War II to bring back stranded passengers

Reuters

Mallorca

6/21 Mallorca

Passengers talk to Civil Aviation Authority employees at Mallorca Airport after Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

7/21 Mallorca, Spain

The 178-year-old operator had been desperately seeking £200 million from private investors to save it from collapse

AFP/Getty

London

8/21 London

Pedestrians walk past a closed branch of a Thomas Cook

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

9/21 Mallorca, Spain

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

10/21 Mallorca, Spain

A British Government official talks to passengers

AFP/Getty

Peterborough headquarters

11/21 Peterborough headquarters

A woman carries a box through the carpark

PA

Crete, Greece

12/21 Crete, Greece

People line up in front of a Thomas Cook counter at the Heraklion airport

Reuters

Manchester Airport

13/21 Manchester Airport

A British Government official assists passengers

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

14/21 Mallorca, Spain

AFP/Getty

Crete, Greece

15/21 Crete, Greece

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

16/21 Mallorca, Spain

Passengers sit on the floor

EPA

Tunis, Tunisia

17/21 Tunis, Tunisia

Tourists, flying with Thomas Cook, queue at the Enfidha International airport

AFP/Getty

Peterborough headquarters

18/21 Peterborough headquarters

A man sits outside

PA

Split, Croatia

19/21 Split, Croatia

Passengers wait inside Split airport

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

20/21 Mallorca, Spain

Thomas Cook staff speak with British passengers

AP

Mallorca, Spain

21/21 Mallorca, Spain

Reuters

Antalya, Turkey

1/21 Antalya, Turkey

British passengers with Thomas Cook wait in long queue at Antalya airport in Turkey

AP

Mallorca, Spain

2/21 Mallorca, Spain

Reuters

Peterborough headquarters

3/21 Peterborough headquarters

People carry bags and boxes outside the Peterborough headquarters. A total of 22,000 jobs - including 9,000 in UK - to be lost following administration

PA

Mallorca

4/21 Mallorca

More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

AFP/Getty

Manchester Airport

5/21 Manchester Airport

The group failed to reach a last-ditch rescue deal, triggering the UK's biggest repatriation since World War II to bring back stranded passengers

Reuters

Mallorca

6/21 Mallorca

Passengers talk to Civil Aviation Authority employees at Mallorca Airport after Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

7/21 Mallorca, Spain

The 178-year-old operator had been desperately seeking £200 million from private investors to save it from collapse

AFP/Getty

London

8/21 London

Pedestrians walk past a closed branch of a Thomas Cook

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

9/21 Mallorca, Spain

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

10/21 Mallorca, Spain

A British Government official talks to passengers

AFP/Getty

Peterborough headquarters

11/21 Peterborough headquarters

A woman carries a box through the carpark

PA

Crete, Greece

12/21 Crete, Greece

People line up in front of a Thomas Cook counter at the Heraklion airport

Reuters

Manchester Airport

13/21 Manchester Airport

A British Government official assists passengers

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

14/21 Mallorca, Spain

AFP/Getty

Crete, Greece

15/21 Crete, Greece

Reuters

Mallorca, Spain

16/21 Mallorca, Spain

Passengers sit on the floor

EPA

Tunis, Tunisia

17/21 Tunis, Tunisia

Tourists, flying with Thomas Cook, queue at the Enfidha International airport

AFP/Getty

Peterborough headquarters

18/21 Peterborough headquarters

A man sits outside

PA

Split, Croatia

19/21 Split, Croatia

Passengers wait inside Split airport

AFP/Getty

Mallorca, Spain

20/21 Mallorca, Spain

Thomas Cook staff speak with British passengers

AP

Mallorca, Spain

21/21 Mallorca, Spain

Reuters

But more than three-quarters of the total paid with credit or debit card, cheque or cash. The number of outstanding bookings is believed to be around 300,000, representing over 600,000 customers.

Under the Atol scheme they are entitled to full refunds. The CAA is assuring customers who applied on the first possible date, 7 October 2019, that they will get their money back by 6 December: “We aim to pay refunds within 60 days of receiving a valid completed claim form.”

According to a specialist in the claims-handling business, for the target to be achieved, it would be normal for a significant number of refunds to have been made already.

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The individual, who did not want to be named, said: “The process is to get through all the straightforward cases as rapidly as possible, then concentrate resources on the ‘problem’ cases where fraud is suspected or the paperwork isn’t right.”

The Independent has asked Thomas Cook customers via Twitter about their refund experiences. The responses were all self-selecting and cannot be directly verified.

Of the replies within the first 24 hours, 38 said they were direct-debit customers and had had their payments returned.

Rob Spring reported: “Refunded promptly and without any problem.”

Some who had paid the deposit with a card were still waiting for that portion of the cost of their holiday.

A further 30 said that they had paid by direct debit but had not yet been reimbursed. Pat wrote: “Direct debit still not refunded. Done online claim.

“Received no confirmation that they have received and when I asked told had to wait for them to contact me if more information was needed. Absolute disgrace.”

These numbers were dwarfed by 301 customers who said they had paid by other means and are still waiting for refunds.

Kellie Forbes Simpson reported: “Paid in full for package holiday a week before they went bust. Submitted the application 8/10.

Thomas Cook: The lessons learnt from the collapse

“No communication, nothing. The charge is sat on my credit card gathering interest.”

A handful of Thomas Cook holidaymakers reported that they had received refunds. All these cases were followed up by The Independent. In each of them either the booking was a holiday assembled and sold through an online travel agent such as Travel Republic or On The Beach, or a flight-only deal refunded by the credit-card firm.

Janet Gledstone said: “Our money was totally refunded a couple of weeks ago. Tesco Bank were thoroughly professional and offered an amazing service to ease our worries over £3,500 of flights to Cape Town.”

The claims expert, who has seen The Independent’s data, said: “My guess is that no one apart from the direct debit people have yet seen any money.

“Even if they start sending out refunds today, they will have to process them at a rate of 6,000 bookings a day, seven days a week, to meet the target.”

The 6 December date applies only to the holidaymakers who applied on the opening day for claims, 7 October. An applicant who requested a refund a fortnight later would not be due the cash until 20 December.

The CAA has contracted out the refund process to organisations such as CEGA and Travel Claims Services Ltd.

The Independent has contacted both companies to seek a response about the refunds, but so far without a response.

After the Monarch Airlines collapse in 2017, which was on a much smaller scale with far fewer package holidaymakers involved, one in five customers had to wait at least three months to get their money back.

The CAA says it is planning to update its advice to Thomas Cook holidaymakers later this week.

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