A flight I booked through Gotogate was cancelled last year due to the pandemic and, 16 months later, I am still waiting for my refund. Online, I can see I’m far from alone.
One of those keeping you company is OM of London, who has been waiting a mere 13 months for his refund. He’d also booked through Gotogate but Covid put paid to his holiday.
You are paying the price for booking through a third party. The choice and cheap deals offered by booking platforms may seem attractive, but add-ons can inflate the price substantially and customer service can be unreliable. Gotogate, part of the Swedish Etraveli group, invites passengers to pay for after-sales service. Those who are willing to part with £8.99 or more are promised quicker responses and priority refunds, although a notice warns that Covid continues to delay the process.
Those who aren’t are put to the back of the queue – and charged a sizeable admin fee to claim their dues. For a dummy booking to New York I was quoted £29 for help after any airline schedule changes unless I paid £17.99 for a “Platinum Support Package’”.
In June, Gotogate confirmed to TSP that his refund had been received from the airline but warned pandemic disruption meant it may take a “long time”. It wasn’t until this month, 20 months after his flight was cancelled, that the money arrived. Gotogate told me it had contacted the airline for a refund last July (four months after the cancelled flight), but contrary to its message in June, it had not yet received the money. OM has also now been refunded. Gotogate blamed the airline.
Passengers who book via a third-party agent risk finding themselves in limbo over refunds. The legislation entitling passengers to refunds or compensation if flights are disrupted applies only to airlines. However, some insist passengers claim through the booking agent. Gotogate’s terms and conditions make clear it is an intermediary and is not liable for shortfalls by airlines.
According to Coby Benson of solicitors Bott & Co, empty-handed customers are unlikely to have legal recourse against Gotogate. “The best option is to pursue the airline directly, because they’re the ones with a legal obligation (both under EC Regulation 261/2004 and contract law),” he says.
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