In 2015 a group of us travelled to Prague on a trip booked through an independent travel agent, Thomas William Travel. We transferred the money to the agent, which then booked our flights with easyJet.
Four years on, one of the friends who had been on the trip was stopped at the gate when trying to board an easyJet flight to Edinburgh and told that, although he had a boarding pass, there was no seat reserved for him.
The airline apologised and found an alternative flight at a later date but again he was turned away at the airport. He eventually discovered that he – and the rest of us who made that journey to Prague – was on a banned list over an unpaid debt of £900.
It turned out that the director of Thomas William Travel, Simon Dinham, had been convicted of fraud in 2018 after swindling customers out of thousands of pounds.
Last July, a chargeback was made on the card used by the agency to pay for our flights. EasyJet was told the card had been used fraudulently and it repaid the cost of the fares.
EasyJet has since blacklisted all of us until the debt is paid. We’re upset that this chargeback was accepted and paid four years after the transaction, and that we are being left to pay the price for what should be a dispute between the airline and the cardholder’s bank.
EasyJet is the main airline at our local airport, so a lifetime ban is a severe hindrance to future travel. SO, Bristol
EasyJet evidently needs a more discerning system to distinguish fraudsters from victims. Another reader was blacklisted after her credit card was stolen and used to book flights four years earlier. Given that it had written you all off as scammers, it’s strange that it twice allowed your friend to book and pay for a flight to Edinburgh before banning him from boarding.
It’s also disconcerting that the chargeback went through so long after the transaction. It sounds as though it was a credit card claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which has no limit, rather than a debit card chargeback which must usually be made within 120 days.
You say that easyJet had dismissed your explanation that the flight had been booked by a travel agent who was later convicted for fraud. It changed its stance after the Observer questioned its reasoning. It said that the airline had been unable to link the booking to a travel agent because it was made on its public website rather than the business-to-business platform, and used fake details. It asked for proof that you had paid the travel agent an equivalent sum and, after you sent it, accepted that you were all innocent victims and will face no further issues should you wish to book new flights.
If you need help email Anna Tims at [email protected] or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions
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