Coronavirus: Ryanair accuses screenscraping OTAs of blocking customer refunds

Coronavirus: Ryanair accuses screenscraping OTAs of blocking customer refunds

Budget carrier demands regulation of unauthorised agents using fake customer details

Ryanair has blamed OTAs using fake email addresses for its inability to process a “significant minority” of refund claims.

The budget carrier says it has highlighted the situation with UK and Irish aviation regulators and demanded intervention to prevent “unauthorised agents” selling its flights.

In announcing that it has made “rapid progress” in processing customer refunds, the budget carrier called on “screenscraping” OTAs to provide accurate customer contact data.

Ryanair said it has cleared a backlog of cash refund claims for March and by the end of June 50% of April refunds will have been issued and all with have been dealt with by July 15.

By the end of July all of May and most of June cash refunds will also be processed, the airline said.

The update on refunds came after the UK regulator body for airlines, the CAA, threatened to take action against airlines having found a “substantial backlog” of claims.

Under EU law airlines are must refund customers within seven days of the flight being cancelled, however, very few have been able to meet that legal obligation.

Ryanair says it has brought in and trained additional staff to deal with refunds after its Dublin offices reopened on June 1.

The carrier said: “Ryanair also called on screenscraping online travel agents (OTAs) to provide accurate details of their unauthorised bookings, so Ryanair can also process these refunds.

“A significant minority of Ryanair’s refunds are being blocked due to OTAs using fake email addresses and virtual credit cards when making bookings, which cannot be traced back to the individual consumer.

“Ryanair calls on all affected customers who have not yet received their refund to contact OTAs’ customer service to ensure that OTAs have acted on Ryanair’s notification emails and are cooperating with Ryanair so these refund requests can also be processed.”

Chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “We are pleased to have made such significant progress over the month of June in eliminating the backlog of cash refunds due to the Covid-19 flight cancellations.

“Over 90% of passengers who booked directly with Ryanair and who requested a cash refund for travel between March and June will receive their refunds before the end of July.

“It is worrying however that a significant rump of our customers, who made bookings through unauthorised 3rd party screenscrapers/online travel agencies, have yet to receive their refunds because the OTAs gave Ryanair fake email addresses or virtual credit card details for these customers.

“We are highlighting this fact to the regulators in Ireland (CAR) and in the UK (CAA) as this demonstrates yet again why urgent regulation of unauthorised screenscrapers is needed to ensure that these unauthorised intermediaries provide airlines with accurate email addresses and valid payment details for customers so we can process cash refunds to these customers promptly and efficiently.”

“We will continue to process these cash refunds as fast as we can, and would encourage any customers who haven’t yet requested a cash refund, to do so with our Customer Service team and we will process their request as quickly as possible.”