Martin Lewis has given a major update for caravan owners seeking holiday park refunds.
Parkdean Resorts were blasted by furious owners last week for refusing to give them any refunds for static caravans in the UK they can’t use because of lockdown restrictions.
The financial guru has been inundated with questions and complaints about this latest issue from people with caravans on other UK sites.
Martin has put together a handy guide on his Money Saving Expert website and on the Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV this evening he gave advice to one caravan owner who was paying £3,500 per season and wanted a refund.
During the call he revealed he had spoken to the Competition and Markets Authority.
Martin said: “It said, ‘look if you’re denied access to service you should get a refund for that, but certainly you’re not denied access to the whole service’.”
Martin explained: “You certainly aren’t entitled to all your money back but you’re probably entitled to a partial refund.”
It gives hope to many of the 365,000 static caravan owners in the UK at the moment who are battling to get money back.
Martin told the woman: “The key to the park is that you pay for two things of course.
“You pay to park your caravan and you also pay for the facilities.
“Now in some cases there are water slides and entertainments so clearly you’re not due a refund for parking your caravan because your caravan is there.
“It’s the facilities and the access you’re lacking.”
Martin asked: “Is it a big caravan park, a small caravan park? What facilities do you have?”
She replied: “It’s a small family run park. It’s got a swimming pool and a pub and that’s it. It’s me and the owners only.”
Martin explained that nobody could tell her what the proportion of the fee was for site facilities.
He said: “Only you can work it out and the fact it’s a small family run park, in a way, one thing I would say, just like any other relationship they have probably had their own struggles due to coronavirus.
“I know some small parks are giving refunds. Many of them are saying would you take a discount off next year’s bill which I think is fair because that would help cashflow but as to the exact proportion that really is up to you to negotiate.”
Martin went on to explain if after negotiating there still is stalemate then you still have the normal options.
“Clearly it’s then up to the credit or debit card company to see how much it thinks, and it may disagree and say it won’t do it but then the advantage of using your card is then you can go to the Financial Ombudsman if the card company rejects you.
He explained that this process is free, unlike going to court and the Financial Ombudsman will adjudicate based on fairness as well as the law.
Martin said it would cost the caravan park more so it’s better to tell them what you’re planning to do.
For others who didn’t pay using a credit card, Martin said the only other recourse is through the small claims court.
Martin says this is a “big step” and should be “carefully considered”.
Gary Rycroft, a specialist in consumer law and partner at Joseph A. Jones & Co Solicitors, told Martin that he believes caravan licence agreements have been “frustrated” by the coronavirus crisis.
He thinks a partial refund is an “obvious remedy” because “if owners were to state their case before courts they would have a strong position to win”.
Stephens Scown solicitors outline a contract will be frustrated if:
– The frustrating event occurred after the contract had been formed;
– The frustrating event was not the fault of either party to the contract;
– The frustrating event was beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was entered into; and
– The frustrating event made the performance of future obligations under the contract impossible, illegal or radically different.
They say whether a contract will be frustrated by a supervening event occurring as a result of coronavirus will very much depend on the individual facts of each case.
The bar for frustration is high. However, it is very likely that this bar will be reached in some cases, for example when it becomes illegal to provide a service.
If a contract is frustrated, it is automatically discharged at the time of frustration.
This means that the parties to the contract do not need to perform any future contractual obligations.
Martin has a word of caution on this process because with the contract coming to an end the customer would have to remove their caravan from the pitch.
Martin concludes: “The problem is both sides are hurting at the moment so we have to try and meet in the middle.”
To read Martin’s full caravan refund advice guide click here.