On the upside, yes … You get something. On the downside, it is a voucher that is limited to one year. With the current crisis still underway, it’s incredibly optimistic that anyone will be able to travel within the year.
Update: According to this FAQ article from the European Consumer Center, “Law no. 69 of 21 May 2021, law converting the Sostegni Decree, in force since May 22, 2021” extended the validity of the vouchers from 18 months to 24 months. After the 24 months, only then are we allowed to request a cash refund.
What’s this new Italian decree-law say about refunds?
Because of the recent Cura-Italia decree in Italy due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus), hotels are now authorized by the Italian decree-law to refund you a time-sensitive voucher in lieu of a cash refund within a 30-day communication of a refund. Art. 88 of the decree-law, Cura-Italia, is currently in place until May 3rd (unless the lockdown gets extended). Though they have the option to either refund or give you a voucher, it seems quite a few hotels, tours, museums, etc are stubbornly opting for a voucher.
The law is trying to save the Italian tourism industry and not necessarily protect the rights of the consumer. I’m hoping that there is further clarification on the terms of the voucher from the Italian government in the future and what to do if the voucher expires or if the company goes out of business. We customers also need liquidity right now during these troubling times.
And scary enough, in this article by One Mile At A Time, this may apply to previously refundable deposits as well.
Shouldn’t you be happy that you’re getting anything at all?
I suppose, but I doubt I’m not the only one that won’t really be able to use it. Personally, it’s extremely unrealistic for me to hop on an expensive and risky plane within the year. No one knows whether coronavirus is here to stay until a vaccine can safely be created and distributed. I also don’t know when quarantines, travel restrictions will be lifted, lockdowns ended, or flights available … Or whether I’ll be able to afford a flight or safely visit Italy from South Korea within that one-year period to redeem my voucher.
This article from Spazio Consumatori brings some hope as it seems some Italian Consumer Unions are trying to ease consumer tensions surrounding the voucher by arguing that some clarification is needed. Perhaps in the form of a refund after the voucher expires so customers aren’t demanding refunds all at once, toppling the tourism industry? Or the ability to transfer the voucher to another name? Let’s see!
Art 88, translated to English via Google, can be read below. You can also go to Gazzetta Ufficiale to read the Cura-Italia law-decree in Italian. Under the eyes of the decree-law, hotels are considered residences.