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How can I get a refund from Tui for my holidays?

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My husband and I booked two holidays to Turkey with Tui for later this year – one in June and one in September.

We paid upfront for the first holiday which was more than £5,000 for in cash and a deposit for the second trip.

Our holiday in June has been cancelled and we were offered a credit refund but I would rather have my money back.

A passenger is trying to get a refund from Tui for two holidays she had booked with it to Turkey

A passenger is trying to get a refund from Tui for two holidays she had booked with it to Turkey

A passenger is trying to get a refund from Tui for two holidays she had booked with it to Turkey

I have tried to contact Tui multiple times by phone and by email to ask for a cash refund but have struggled to get through.

I now want to cancel our September holiday but am finding it difficult to do so. What can I do?

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: After recent developments, its highly unlikely that many Britons will be going away on holiday this summer.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of flights have been cancelled with passengers not willing to put their health and safety at risk by flying to another country.

The travel industry has been hit incredibly hard and as such, a number of airlines, hotels, and travel firms have been inundated with cancellation and refund requests.

We’ve seen many instances of travel firms not accepting phone calls or email contact, stating it will contact affected travellers nearer the time of intended departure.  

You and your husband have been isolating since March as you are both elderly and suffer from health issues.

As such, you decided that you wouldn’t be going on either of your holidays to Turkey this year, regardless of what happens from this point onwards and how lockdown is lifted. 

Some customers are struggling to get through to Tui to organise refunds and cancel holidays

Some customers are struggling to get through to Tui to organise refunds and cancel holidays

Some customers are struggling to get through to Tui to organise refunds and cancel holidays

You paid in full for the first trip in cash and a £400 deposit for the second trip, also in cash.

The first trip, which is due to take place in June, has been cancelled by Tui, due to the current circumstances.

However, it has only offered you a credit voucher, whilst you want cash instead as you aren’t sure when you will next be able to travel.

You added that any money will come in useful at the moment..

One of the major issues was how difficult you found it to get through to Tui, spending hours on the phone waiting to be connected. You had also tried emailing with no response.

Many companies have seen a rise in complaints about customer service at the moment with staff either furloughed or working from home, increasing the risk of bad signal and other delays to their service.

When you finally did manage to get through to someone on 1 May, you told the customer service agent that you wanted a cash refund and also wanted to cancel your holiday for September.

However, he advised you that it was not possible to cancel your holiday in September at this time as the team that usually deals with this were not working due to the coronavirus.

No alternatives were put forward and you have been left worried that you will now be charged the full amount for a holiday that you know you will be unable to go on. 

A Tui spokesperson replies: Our contact centre is exceptionally busy at this time. 

We’re receiving nearly one million calls into our contact centre a day as customers are flooding the phone lines ahead of holidays being cancelled. 

If customers are unable to accept the refund credit, we are offering the option of a cash refund. 

Due to the volume of holidays impacted, we’re asking customers not to contact us until they have received their refund credit so we can continue helping customers in date order.

If customers do need to request a refund before receiving their refund credit email, they can contact us via 0203 451 2868 between 9am and 7pm from Monday to Friday.

For customers who paid their holiday in cash, our finance team will call them to take their bank details. 

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: After This is Money got in touch with Tui, it cancelled your September holiday and, although you will lose your deposit, you won’t have to pay anything further – a result you’re content with,

You will receive the refund of both holidays within 14 days. 

However, according to Tui, customers must wait for their refund credit to come through before they can ask for cash instead. 

This would account for some of the many calls they are receiving as many customers want their money back instead of a voucher. 

Unfortunately Tui does not seem to provide an alternative option for those who cannot get through to the phone line. 

It is suggesting that customers just continue to try their line until they manage to get through to somebody.  

You are not the only person who has struggled to get through to Tui, with many taking to social media to complain about how long it took them to try and contact the travel firm.

This customer said she has been held on the phone for over an hour waiting to speak to Tui

This customer said she has been held on the phone for over an hour waiting to speak to Tui

This customer said she has been held on the phone for over an hour waiting to speak to Tui

Another customer said that he has been calling Tui every ten minutes to speak to someone

Another customer said that he has been calling Tui every ten minutes to speak to someone

Another customer said that he has been calling Tui every ten minutes to speak to someone

Some Twitter users have complained as they haven't yet received a refund for their holidays

Some Twitter users have complained as they haven't yet received a refund for their holidays

Some Twitter users have complained as they haven’t yet received a refund for their holidays 

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Government borrowed £62BILLION in April the highest on record

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The scale of the coronavirus hit on the public finances was laid bare today with figures showing the government borrowed a record £62.1 billion in April.

The eye-watering figure was the highest for any month on record, amid desperate moves to bail out millions of workers and businesses.  

It was even higher than analysts had predicted, with a consensus of economists predicting £30.7billion for the month.

The sum is thought to have pushed total public debt to the brink of the £2trillion mark for the first time – roughly the same size as the entire economy. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing was £51.1 billion higher than the same month last year

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing was £51.1 billion higher than the same month last year

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing was £51.1 billion higher than the same month last year

The figures appear to be even worse than the doomladen estimates produced by the independent OBR watchdog last week

The figures appear to be even worse than the doomladen estimates produced by the independent OBR watchdog last week

The figures appear to be even worse than the doomladen estimates produced by the independent OBR watchdog last week

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing was £51.1billion higher than the same month last year. 

The sum for April was almost the same as the entire financial year from April 2019 to March this year – estimated at £62.7 billion.

Some £14billion of the borrowing came from the furlough scheme, the biggest of the government’s bailout. It is covering 80 per cent of income for around 7.5million employees, up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month.

Meanwhile, state borrowing in March 2020 has been revised up by £11.7billion to £14.7billion.

It said this was driven by a reduction in previous estimates of tax receipts and National Insurance contributions.

It comes after the Chancellor stepped up financial support for businesses and employees after vast areas of the economy were forced to halt due to the coronavirus lockdown.

As a result of the jump in borrowing, public sector debt rose to £1,887.6 billion at the end of April – £118.4billion higher than April 2019.

The ONS said that the Government borrowed £62.7billion over the 12 months to the end of March, representing a £22.5 billion rise on the previous year. 

The Office of Budget Responsibility has warned that the government could borrow £300billion this year.  

Apocalyptic predictions from the Bank and England and others show the UK is on track for the worst recession in 300 years, when the Great Frost swept Europe

Apocalyptic predictions from the Bank and England and others show the UK is on track for the worst recession in 300 years, when the Great Frost swept Europe

Apocalyptic predictions from the Bank and England and others show the UK is on track for the worst recession in 300 years, when the Great Frost swept Europe

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Grandparents can keep state pension credits for childcare in lockdown

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Grandparents can claim valuable state pension credits for helping parents with childcare by phone or video rather than in person during the coronavirus lockdown.

Many thousands of grandparents get credits worth around £260 a year during retirement in exchange for providing childcare.

But normal family arrangements have been upended by restrictions to safeguard elderly people and halt the spread of Covid-19.

There was never a minimum hours rule anyway, and the Government has now confirmed that grandparents can carry on applying for or claiming credits if they are keeping children occupied in new ways during the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years.

State pension: Grandparents can claim credits for helping parents with childcare by phone or video rather than in person

State pension: Grandparents can claim credits for helping parents with childcare by phone or video rather than in person

State pension: Grandparents can claim credits for helping parents with childcare by phone or video rather than in person

Some 10,000 people a year who help mums and dads with childcare were applying for the credits by May last year, up from the 1,300 who did so in 2016.

The full state pension is currently £175.20 a week, or around £9,100 a year. Each credit is worth 1/35 of the value of the state pension – around £260 per year or £5,200 over the course of a typical 20-year retirement.

>>>Find out how the grandparent credit system works below

Steve Webb, partner at pension consultants LCP, says: ‘The system of allowing grandparents to claim National Insurance credits where they help a son or daughter back to work is a valuable way of recognising the importance of grandparental care.

‘Face-to-face contact between grandparents and grandchildren is difficult in the current environment, but a grandparent who amuses their grandchildren over the internet for an hour a day can still free up a parent to get work done from home.

‘I think the government was right to take a relatively relaxed approach in the current situation as otherwise lots of grandparents could have found themselves with NI credits for only part of a year, either before or after lockdown, and as a result could miss out on a full year towards their pension.’

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, says: ‘Grandparents play a crucial role in helping to look after their grandchildren so parents can go to work.

‘During the coronavirus crisis most grandparents have been unable to continue to carry out this role face to face, but have continued to provide vital care and support by phone, Facetime, Zoom or other video services.

‘Although generally unpaid, it’s a little known fact that grandparents under state pension age can claim NI credits for looking after their grandchildren who are under 12.

‘The coronavirus crisis will have impacted these caring arrangements, with many grandparents not physically seeing their grandchildren since lockdown, potentially jeopardising their retirement plans and future wellbeing.’

The rules for grandparents are far less rigid than for mums and dads claiming state pension credits for looking after under-12s themselves.

This is Money is campaigning on behalf of parents who miss out on credits towards their state pension, if they fail to apply for child benefit because they don’t qualify for the payments, or make innocent blunders like putting the ‘wrong’ partner who is working down on their form. 

Child benefit and the state pension 

This is Money is campaigning on behalf of parents who end up with a smaller state pension because of mistakes over child benefit forms. 

Have you lost state pension by not signing up because you don’t qualify, or putting the ‘wrong’ partner’s name down?

If this has happened to you, contact tanya.jefferies@thisismoney.co.uk and tell us your story.

How do grandparent pension credits work?

Under the rules, parents – usually mothers – who sign up for child benefit automatically qualify for National Insurance credits that will count towards their eventual state pension if they don’t go back to work and earn them that way.

But when parents do go back to work, often as a result of the free help provided by grandparents or other family members, they have the option to pass on these credits to the person looking after their children.

The child or at least one of the children being looked after must be aged under 12. Anyone applying now can have credits backdated to 2011 when the scheme was introduced.

Aunts, uncles, siblings and other family members helping with childcare can also claim the officially named ‘Specified Adult Childcare’ credits.

However, only one person can do so per year, and they must be under state pension age. The Government has more details on the rules, lockdown arrangements and how to apply here. 

How much is the state pension?

The basic state pension is currently £134.25.  It is topped up by additional state pension entitlements – S2P and Serps – accrued during working years. 

The two-tier state system has changed for people retiring since 6 April 2016, when it was replaced by a new ‘flat rate’ state pension. This is currently worth £175.20 a week.

People who have contracted out of S2P and Serps over the years and retire after April 2016 get less than the full new state pension. 

But they can fill gaps in unpaid and or underpaid National Insurance in previous years, and build up more qualifying years if they have enough time between now and state pension age.

Workers needed to have 30 years of qualifying National Insurance contributions to get the old state pension, but they now need to have 35 years of contributions to get the new flat rate state pension.

But even if you paid in full for a whole 35 years, if you contracted out for some years on top of that it might still reduce what you get. 

Everyone gets the option of deferring their state pension to get more in their later years. You can check your NI record here.

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Skoda launches scooter for new cars that replaced a spare wheel

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Skoda has revealed its latest feature you can have in one of its new cars – a scooter.

The branded scooter is a £120 option for the latest Scala hatchback and Kamiq compact-SUV models.

However, if you choose one, it means you can’t have a spare wheel with your car, because the scooter’s storage compartment is the well where the spare wheel goes.

You choose: Buyers of new Skoda models can either opt for a £120 fold-up scooter or a spare wheel - but they can't have both

You choose: Buyers of new Skoda models can either opt for a £120 fold-up scooter or a spare wheel - but they can't have both

You choose: Buyers of new Skoda models can either opt for a £120 fold-up scooter or a spare wheel – but they can’t have both

Skoda says the new accessory is perfect for ‘the owner who needs to cross the city in style’. 

Though not perfect for the owner who might get a puncture from one of Britain’s pothole-ravaged roads.

The scooter is made by fellow Czech firm Laurin and Klement, which has dabbled in automobiles, motorcycle and bicycles since the brand was founded in 1895 and can be ordered from the car maker’s accessory pack when customers buy either of the two Skoda models. 

The car maker says that, thanks to a patented folding mechanism, the Skoda Scooter can be folded up in a few simple steps and when collapsed is small enough to fit into the compartment under the boot floor. 

‘This means that the entire volume of the boot remains free for transporting luggage and shopping,’ Skoda states.

While that might be true, it also means anyone who orders one has to go without a spare wheel.

The scooter is only available if customers have a puncture repair kit instead of a space-saving spare wheel, as the ride-on’s storage compartment is the spare wheel well.

Anyone who chooses this option will at least be able to complete their trip under their own steam, but it’s not the most ideal way of continuing a journey if you’re unfortunate enough to get a flat tyre – especially on a motorway.

Skoda says the new accessory is perfect for 'the owner who needs to cross the city in style'. Though it's not perfect for the owner who's likely to get a puncture from one of Britain's pothole-ravaged roads

Skoda says the new accessory is perfect for 'the owner who needs to cross the city in style'. Though it's not perfect for the owner who's likely to get a puncture from one of Britain's pothole-ravaged roads

Skoda says the new accessory is perfect for ‘the owner who needs to cross the city in style’. Though it’s not perfect for the owner who’s likely to get a puncture from one of Britain’s pothole-ravaged roads

The scooter folds up and can be stored under the boot floor in the spare wheel well. That means those who order one will be forced to have a tyre repair kit in case of punctures

The scooter folds up and can be stored under the boot floor in the spare wheel well. That means those who order one will be forced to have a tyre repair kit in case of punctures

The scooter folds up and can be stored under the boot floor in the spare wheel well. That means those who order one will be forced to have a tyre repair kit in case of punctures

Spare wheels are already becoming less common in new cars.

The latest market review by What Car? in 2018 revealed that just 62 per cent of new car owners at the time would be without any form of spare wheel.

Analysis by the magazine found that just 8 per cent of new cars sold in the UK two years ago had a full-size spare wheel supplied with them.

Another 30 per cent have skinnier space-saver spares that are designed to be a short-term fix if you do get a puncture.

Just 8% of new cars sold in 2018 came with a full-size spare wheel that's a direct replacement for the one that has a punctured tyre

Just 8% of new cars sold in 2018 came with a full-size spare wheel that's a direct replacement for the one that has a punctured tyre

Just 8% of new cars sold in 2018 came with a full-size spare wheel that’s a direct replacement for the one that has a punctured tyre 

With one fitted, a driver can only travel at speeds of up to 50mph and its recommended the space saver is replaced with a full-size wheel with a new tyre at the earliest convenience.

Infuriatingly for motorists, the most common flat tyre remedy provided by car manufacturers today are puncture repair kits – the same as what you’d need to have if you wanted a scooter with your new Skoda.

These are widely accepted as being difficult to use, ineffective and in some cases damage tyres beyond repair at a later date.

Still, manufacturers were supplying repair kits in 55 per cent of new cars that were available in showrooms in 2018 – a market share that’s likely to have increased since.

The remaining 7 per cent of cars in 2018 came with run-flat tyres, which are more expensive to replace.

If not having a spare wheel isn’t enough to put you off spending £120 for a scooter, Skoda says its transportable push-along has been designed for adult use, has a weight capacity of 100kg and high-quality bearings and wheels in polyurethane to ‘guarantee an equally fast and comfortable riding experience’. 

The scooter itself weighs just 5kg, so could be an option for those who commute by train and leave their motors at station car parks.

We’d still prefer the option of a spare wheel to fall back on, though. 

Skoda’s new scooter option comes in the same week that plans for rental e-scooter (with electric power) were revealed by the UK government.

Proposals say riders won’t require training or need to wear a helmet when riding one, but they will be banned from using pavements and be restricted to a top speed of 12.5mph.

The proposals are part of a consultation launched by the Department for Transport to allow pilot schemes to launch next month as an alternative mode of transport for commuters who have been urged to avoid public transport where possible.

What is a car tyre repair kit and how do they work? 

Research shows that a tyre repair kit can only fix one in five of all punctures

Research shows that a tyre repair kit can only fix one in five of all punctures

Research shows that a tyre repair kit can only fix one in five of all punctures

A repair kit consists of a can of sealant that’s sprayed into the tyre via the valve and a compressor that can be connected to a 12-volt socket in the car and used to reinflate the damaged tyre. 

The car needs to be driven soon after the tyre has been filled with sealant so that the liquid can spread around the inside and plug any holes in the rubber.

The biggest benefit of these kits – in theory – is that they’re designed to enable motorists to continue a journey without the hassle of changing a wheel. 

Once the tyre has been reinflated, most suggest you can can drive on it for around 300 miles.

However, research shows the sealant won’t work for one in every five punctures, if the hole is more than 5mm in diameter or in the tyre’s sidewall.

Also, the repaired tyre will deflate a day or so after the sealant has been used if it doesn’t plug the hole completely. And even in any case, it’s still only a temporary fix.

Sealant can also prevent the tyre from being properly repaired. This could push up the cost of resolving a puncture from less than £20 for a tyre repair and wheel balancing to more than £100 for a new tyre.

To avoid this expense, use only water-based sealant, because this can be rinsed out of the tyre.

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