UK wedding firms told to refund couples for Covid cancellations

Wedding firms have been told they must refund couples who were unable to exchange vows without breaking lockdown rules, after the competition watchdog was inundated by complaints from angry prospective brides and grooms.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said venues and suppliers should repay people in full, except where services or goods had already been supplied, or the company had incurred costs.

Couples planning to marry in the run-up to lockdown and since then have reported problems getting money back for ceremonies and receptions that they were forced to cancel because going ahead would have meant breaking physical distancing rules.

In some cases, couples have been offered only partial refunds, or incurred extra costs after moving their nuptials to another date.

With the average cost of a wedding in the region of £30,000, many have faced losing thousands of pounds as a result of having to cancel or make changes to their big day. By July, around 650 couples had complained to the CMA about problems with wedding suppliers, with the median sum involved standing at £3,200.

The CMA said one firm, Bijou Weddings Group, had agreed to change its policy and make fairer payments to hundreds of couples who had planned to marry at one of its venues. Previously it had offered to reschedule weddings at no cost, but if a couple did not take this option, they were only offered a very limited refund.

a person in a wedding dress: Many couples have lost thousands of pounds because physical distancing rules have forced them to delay their weddings.

© Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images Many couples have lost thousands of pounds because physical distancing rules have forced them to delay their weddings.

The CMA said even deposits described as “non-refundable” should be returned if no services had yet been provided. The regulator, which has been collecting complaints about businesses since the pandemic hit, said it was not fair for all losses to fall on consumers.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “It is good news that Bijou has agreed to offer fairer levels of refunds to its customers, and we encourage other firms in the industry to follow suit.

“As lockdown lifts, couples around the country are still dealing with the impact of expensive wedding receptions that couldn’t go ahead as planned, and it’s important that they get the refunds they are due.”

Sam Cutmore-Scott, director of Bijou Weddings, said: “Bijou has been in voluntary, regular and proactive contact with the CMA in recent weeks and is pleased to have reached a workable solution.”

Source: Theguardian.com

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