Wedding firm raises refunds after watchdog steps in

Wedding reception venue Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Couples that had splashed out on dream wedding venues were struggling to get refunds

Hundreds of brides and grooms whose weddings were cancelled by the Covid lockdown are to get bigger refunds, after the competition watchdog acted.

Couples due to be married at venues owned by the Bijou Weddings group had complained to the BBC about the firm’s refunds policy.

Now the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says the company has agreed to offer more compensation and stop leaving couples out of pocket.

It urged other firms to follow suit.

“After engaging constructively with the CMA, Bijou has now agreed to change its policy to offer a fairer level of partial refund to consumers who did not want to reschedule their wedding,” the authority said.

“If the company had not done this, the CMA could have taken it to court.”

Out of pocket

“Following CMA action, Bijou Weddings group will now provide fairer refunds to couples whose weddings could not go ahead because of coronavirus,” the watchdog said.

“At the start of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, no weddings were able to take place at Bijou’s venues between 23 March and 4 July.

“Bijou offered to reschedule these weddings at no cost, but couples who did not want to rearrange were only offered a very limited refund and would have been left significantly out of pocket by Bijou’s refund policy.”

The CMA said couples affected should have been charged only an amount that contributed to the costs the firm had already incurred.

Image copyright Getty Images

The CMA said Bijou would not have to give refunds to people who had already received, or were going to receive, their money back through their insurance.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said it was “good news” that Bijou had agreed to offer higher refunds.

“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,” he said.

“We’re also writing an open letter to all wedding businesses, and directly to some, reminding them of their legal obligations.”

Sam Cutmore-Scott, director of Bijou Weddings, said: “We look forward to working through the agreed partial refunds process with those of our customers who have been affected by the coronavirus lockdown and who have not rescheduled their weddings.”

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