Travel Republic customers have expressed their frustration after the company closed its phone lines because it was inundated with calls.
The online travel agent stopped taking incoming calls in early August following Spain’s removal from the Foreign Office’s list of countries exempt from its blanket advisory against all non-essential travel.
The policy change triggered a huge round of holiday cancellations and saw a surge in calls from customers enquiring about refunds and checking whether their trips would still go ahead.
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Instead of attempting to deal with all the calls, Travel Republic said it would be “reaching out to customers in departure date order”.
It added: “While we do this, we have taken the precaution to pause automated final balance payments and reminders for all customers due to travel in August and September.”
Customers have vented their anger at the lack of communication via social media.
“Still waiting on a reply to my two DMs and my customer requests regarding the rest of our refund from 27th May can not get in contact with anyone, it’s ridiculous,” tweeted one user.
Another said: “please let me know how can I obtain my refund – we were due to travel in April I have tried to contact you numerous times with no luck PLEASE reply!”
“Still no response on credit notes for holidays that were cancelled in May. Nobody answering messages or phone calls. Poor service,” added another frustrated holidaymaker.
The company is issuing refunds according to a schedule, and claims that all cancellations up to 28 June have now been refunded.
However, some customers booked from 13-17 March are yet to get their money back.
“We are very sorry for the delay in issuing these,” the travel agent tweeted.
Travel Republic also apologised that it would be unable to respond to all customers on social media “due to the high volume of comments and messages.”
A spokesperson from Travel Republic told The Independent they currently expect to reopen phone lines in early September.
They said: “Since May, we’ve cancelled nearly 70,000 holidays and refunded almost 190,000 customers. However, such is the volume of enquiries caused by the continued dynamism of the situation that the whole UK travel industry is dealing with – such as the overnight removal of Spain and its islands from the FCO’s ‘safe’ travel list – we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close our phone lines for incoming calls to enable our service team to focus on proactively contacting those customers due to depart imminently, or who are currently overseas and need assistance in returning to the UK.
“We appreciate this is frustrating for those who are trying to contact us and urge them to keep an eye on our daily social media updates for news about our refund schedule. Resource has been added to the teams who are monitoring and processing enquiries, and all customer service requests logged online are seen and will be dealt with in date departure order. We apologise for any distress customers are experiencing and thank them for their patience.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe hard, one country that fared better than most is Portugal. Its pre-pandemic success as an investment immigration hotspot remains, resulting in a considerable consensus it will bounce back faster and stronger than its peers.
A lot of Portugal’s success is credited to its “twin engines” of FDIs: its Golden Visa program and the Non-Habitual Residence program.
As a firm we have been operating in Portugal for several years, assisting many families in obtaining exceptional Portuguese real estate, including members of ruling families, vice presidents of FTSE 100 companies and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. We have seen first-hand its growth trajectory, and I, for one, will return to Lisbon and Porto to seek post-Covid-19 investment opportunities."
A Golden Visa, with a bonus
For those seeking to invest in bricks and mortar in a market with strong fundamentals while also obtaining European residency in a safe, secure, and fiscally attractive country, investors should look no further than Portugal. The eligibility for EU citizenship after 5 years puts it ahead of its European peers in the eyes of many prospective applicants.
“As a firm we have been operating in Portugal for several years, assisting many families in obtaining exceptional Portuguese real estate, including members of ruling families, vice presidents of FTSE 100 companies and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. We have seen first-hand its growth trajectory, and I, for one, will return to Lisbon and Porto to seek post-COVID-19 investment opportunities,” says Jeremy Savory – CEO and Founder, Savory & Partners.
Better than before?
With real estate options starting at EUR 280,000 not only will your money go further, but you will also benefit from:
– Potential distress opportunities as some motivated sellers feel the economic effects Covid -19.
– Modified mortgage loan-to-value ratios and eligibility criteria from Portuguese banks favoring cash-rich international investors.
– Diversifying your portfolio with a Euro denominated property as a hedge against a weakening dollar.
– Long-term real estate resilience as Golden Visa and NHR applicants that are committed to five- and ten-year holding periods stabilize the market.
With Malta – now starting from EUR 1.5 million-plus and Cyprus EUR 2 million, Portugal Golden Visa starts at less than 20 per cent of the price of the two EU citizenship options.
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