RYANAIR staff wrongly told customers they may be "blacklisted" from the airline in the future if they request refunds for cancelled flights from banks.
Customers were mistakenly told that using the chargeback scheme to get a refund from their bank for cancelled flights is "a fraudulent activity", according to MoneySavingExpert.
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It's the latest blow to disappointed holidaymakers, who've had their flights cancelled and travel plans disrupted due to the coronavirus crisis.
Frustrated Ryanair passengers have also been complaining about their difficulties trying to claim their cash back from the airline.
Despite requesting refunds many have been sent vouchers instead, with the option to obtain a refund after a 12-month period.
Some customers who've been unhappy to wait this long have instead chosen to use chargeback - a scheme where if you paid by debit card your bank asks for money back from the supplier's bank if you haven't received the goods or services you paid for.
What is the chargeback scheme?
THE chargeback scheme is different to Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act, which applies to credit card payments above £100.
The chargeback scheme applies to debit card payments and credit card bookings of under £100.
As with Section 75, chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn't receive.
But unlike Section 75, it's not a legal requirement so there's no guarantee you'll get your money back.
To start a chargeback claim, you need to contact your card provider within 120 days of the transaction.
The Money Advice Service warns that Chargeback claims can take some time to process because the card company has to get the money refunded, in this case from Ryanair, before it can pass it onto you.
If this proves unsuccessful, you can take your claim to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.
But MoneySavingExpert reports it's seen at least 10 examples of people who claim Ryanair staff have said that chargeback could amount to fraud or that it may result in them being unable to use the airline again.
A customer service's agent reportedly told one Ryanair passenger that "chargeback is a fraudulent activity" after informing her she'll be refunded once the government eases social-distancing guidelines.
While another customer was told using chargeback may result in him being put "on a blacklist" with Ryanair.
A number of customers have also vented on Twitter recently, with one user saying: "@Ryanair Been in your chat this morning, was told that if I initiate a chargeback I will be banned from Ryanair in future can you point me to the policy that this comes from?
"LC agent was unable to do so…"
And another added: "Hi @Ryanair, waiting for my fly refund for six weeks.
"I was told by your customer service we don't know if ever will you be refunded and if you apply for chargeback via credit card company you will not be able to book the fly with Ryanair again."
But after MoneySavingExpert showed Ryanair evidence of these claims, the budget carrier reportedly said its customer service agents got it wrong and that this is not its policy.
A spokesperson added to The Sun: "These claims are untrue.
"Chargebacks are not considered a fraudulent activity and Ryanair only ‘blacklists’ customers in confirmed fraud cases."
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Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "To give Ryanair the benefit of the doubt, we have to view this as human error in highly pressured circumstances, due to possibly systemically poor customer service training.
"It is outrageous for a firm's staff to call asking your bank for a chargeback an act of fraud.
"Especially when coming from Ryanair, which itself is refusing cash refunds within the timeframe mandated by EU 261/204 – a breach of the law.
"We hope that by raising this with the firm, it will urgently brief all its frontline staff on this issue.
"If not and we continue to get reports now we have notified it, then we will report it to the regulatory authorities."
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Earlier this week, Ryanair announced plans to cut 3,250 jobs and slash pay by 20 per cent despite £894million profits.
The airline has previously said it aims to return to the skies in July with super cheap flights.
We've explained how to get a refund from Ryanair for cancelled flights.