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Credit Card Section 75

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iloveglee | 22:34 Tue 17th Mar 2020 | Law
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I am wondering whether you consumer experts and legal eagles on here can confirm something for me, because I can't find a definitive answer to my problem. Probably because this has never happened before.

I have flights booked to the USA, booked several weeks ago before the Coronavirus became a 'thing'. It is a US based airline but operating directly to the US from a UK airport. I am under the impression that this places my transaction with the airline under EU law, which I believe still applies until the end of the year.

As the USA have now banned travel from the UK, this means I cannot take my flight, due to take place next week, as I would be denied entry. As far as I can work out, this means the airline cannot fly me, and thus is in breach of contract. For this reason I believe I am due to have the option of a refund. Currently the airline are only giving the option on their website of rebooking, with no fees to pay. As no-one knows when, or even if the airline business will go back to normal, and whether I would even be able to fly later on in the year, I don't feel this is an acceptable option.

I haven't heard anything from the airline, and contacting them is pretty nearly impossible. I have called (forget that), tweeted, facebook messaged, and e-mailed. I recognise that airlines are probably totally overloaded, but in the event that I hear nothing before my date to fly I am going to get a bit concerned.

So this is why I think Section 75 of the consumer credit act would come into play here, as I believe the credit card is also liable as much as the seller of the goods or services. I am really just wanting to check that I am correct in this assumption, and whether I can begin a claim under this regulation, before I hear anything from the airline, presuming they don't get in touch in the next few days. Clearly if the airline pay up, that claim would be cancelled.

I'm pretty sure there are loads of people in my situation. I know my travel insurance won't pay as I don't have travel disruption on the policy, and the information coming from the government on this subject is a bit lacking. Unless I have missed something somewhere along the line.

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My understanding is that you're covered under Section 75:
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/section75-protect-your-purchases/
(See 'Are overseas and web purchases protected?')
From another website

https://www.ukecc.net/consumer-topics/buying-outside-the-eu.cfm

If the items you want are sold by a website based in China, USA or elsewhere in the world you need to consider that if something goes wrong with your purchase you may not have any means of resolving the problem.  

If a company in the UK doesn’t deliver your goods you can take legal action or potentially go to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body, this is the same across the EU.  However, if a company outside of the EU doesn’t deliver your goods you may need to take legal action if the trader unwilling to resolve your complaint, which could prove costly and disproportionate if the goods are of relatively low value. 

Generally there are consumer protection agencies in most countries who could provide advice or assistance  however it may not be possible for a person living outside of the country to use the service they provide.  This will depend on the agency in the country the trader is based.  You can find a list of suitable agencies here FTC consumer protection agencies

It is worth considering the protection offered by either your bank or credit card company for any purchase from a non-EU company. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act you can pursue your credit card company for a refund if there is a breach of contract.

If you receive faulty goods or don’t receive your order at all this can be useful in getting your money back. For Section 75 you have to have paid between £100 and £30,000. A lot of banks also offer protection via a scheme called Chargeback.  Chargeback can be used for items under £100 but there is no legal obligation on the banks to provide this.

Companies like PayPal also offer protection but you should read their terms on this carefully.

If you do have an issue with something purchased outside of the EU you can give us a call on 01268 886690. We may not be able to help you directly but we may be aware of a consumer body that you can take your complaint to."
I understand that prior to making a claim under Section 75 you have to show that you have done everything possible to deal direct with the company to get a refund. You need to keep copies of any letters, emails etc between yourself and the company showing that you have asked for a full refund and any offers that have been made to you.
I made a claim against an English tour company and that is what I had to do. I did get a satisfactory result. I think your claim is slightly different but I guess other Abers might well be more knowledgable.
Good luck.
>>> I understand that prior to making a claim under Section 75 you have to show that you have done everything possible to deal direct with the company to get a refund

No. You can claim directly against the credit card company:
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act
I am aware that consumer organisations are grappling with this. Although it is clear that your travel is effectively ruled out, like those going for a fortnight somewhere but are obliged to spend it in quarantine then return home. The airline is not cancelling (the trigger in the relevant EU law) and the tour operator has provided the agreed hotel, albeit for quarantine purposes (sale of goods and services) but neither is helpful or what was aimed for. If you cancel that is your choice and both companies will likely present this as no fault of theirs nor do they bear any responsibilty.

You are caught in what is largely an unforeseen situation, at least in recent times. Try to get advice from somewhere like Citizens Advice or a lawyer. I am unaware of any precedent having been established but some consumer organisations have made it clear that in their opinion a refund should be issued.
Well I did say that others may be more knowledgable, I was just stating what I had to do and my claim was successful.
"Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the credit card company is jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the retailer or trader."

That means the airline OR the credit card company can be approached for the refund and there's no need to wait for a reply from the airline.
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So far as the airline not cancelling, I believe this doesn't matter in this case, although I stand to be corrected. We were 'bumped' from a flight a few years ago, and we made aware that they were obliged to give us the option of travel at a different time, or a refund if we didn't want, or couldn't travel, plus compensation because it was as a result of their actions, i.e. overbooking. The flight went ahead, we just were not able to be on it.

I have had the term force majeure mentioned. I do know what this is, and the airline could possibly use it to absolve them of their legal obligations. However, I wonder if this would also apply to to the fact that the credit card is jointly and severally responsible. Would they also be able to argue force majeure. Interesting isn't it.

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