A regulator’s efforts to force package holiday firms into timely refunds for breaks disrupted by COVID-19 has resulted in lastminute.com agreeing to a payment schedule.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the company had signed a legal undertaking to hand back more than £7m to more than 9,000 customers amid customer anger over coronavirus refund delays across the industry.

It had received hundreds of complaints about lastminute.com alone. The company, the watchdog said, had agreed to repay at least half the customers by 16 December and the rest no later than 31 January.

It added that lastminute.com’s commitments meant that anyone entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled by the firm on or after 3 December 2020 will be paid within 14 days – the legal deadline.