Marks & Spencer offers peso and dollar refund to travellers

Customers who bought Mexican pesos or US dollars from retailer Marks & Spencer are being offered a full refund if they have cancelled their trips to Mexico, because of the swine flu outbreak.

Unused currency can be taken to any of the 116 M&S bureaux de change until Friday. Staff at the bureaux de change are under instruction to reimburse customers for the full amount paid in sterling, upon proof of purchase and intention to travel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned against non-essential travel to Mexico after the World Health Organisation raised its pandemic threat alert. Travel insurance polices purchased for travel to Mexico after this warning may be declared void.

Those who have cancelled trips and want to claim on their travel insurance are likely to be entitled to a refund, but policies do vary. Cancellations to other countries affected by the outbreak such as the US, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Israel and Spain may not be covered, so travellers are advised to check the terms and conditions before taking action.

"As the cancellation of travel arrangements is down to the FCO advising against non-essential travel to an area, travel costs will be refunded by the tour operator. Those customers who have booked flights and holidays through independent companies, will need to contact the provider first," says Steve Williams, the head of travel insurance at the comparison website Confused.com.

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