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Thomas Cook collapse: Customers concerned about their money

Thomas Cook collapse : Customers concerned about their money

Only 30 million Euro are left over for compensation payments following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The compensation of customers of the insolvent German tour operator Thomas Cook and its subsidiaries raises some complicated questions. Could the customers who have already been on holiday with Thomas Cook be better off than those who have booked but not yet started their trip and only made advanced payments? According to estimates, which have not been officially confirmed, the insurer Zurich is spending around 80 million euros on the repatriation of holidaymakers alone. The total compensation amount is capped at 110 million euros, which would leave only 30 million euros remaining for customer reimbursement, which is not nearly enough.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, VZBV) considers Zurich to be under an obligation. Felix Methmann of the VZBV believes that the insurer should have known that 110 million euros would be inadequate protection for a company the size of Thomas Cook. According to the law, it is not mandatory to cap the amount of compensation – this is an optional requirement. The German Thomas Cook recently generated a turnover of 3.8 billion euros, and it is well known in the industry that 25 percent of annual turnover is attributable to prepaid customer deposits.

A Zurich spokesman said that the company also had to pay for the holidaymakers’ accommodation and repatriation and had arranged this at a reasonable price. This means that the trips were dealt with as booked. For this, the hotels and airlines had to be paid at the prices agreed with Thomas Cook or with subsidiaries such as Neckermann. Cancelling the trips would have caused chaos. Holidaymakers would then have made reimbursement claims; the return flights would have been much more expensive than usual. This does not change the fact that there were hardly any disadvantages for customers who were already on holiday at the time of the insolvency, while customer deposits may have been largely lost. You may wonder whether this is allowed. As a precautionary measure, the consumer advice centre has called on Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to make funds available for Thomas Cook customers, as the state is liable for compensation on a subordinate basis (after Zurich). The demand for federal liability is based on the fact that the EU Directive was incorrectly implemented (cap on compensation). (Original text: Gerhard Meyenburg, Translation: Caroline Kusch)