29-Jun-2011 11:31 AM

UK’s OFT to take action against hidden card charges

UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has ordered British travel companies to end the use of hidden surcharges for passengers paying by card (BBC News, 28-Jun-2011). The OFT wants to see all debit and credit card charges to be made clear to consumers immediately, rather than at the last stages of the booking process, which has usually been the case. It also wants the law changed to abolish debit card charges. UK travellers spend USD300 million on card charges p/a, the OFT estimates. The agency will take legal action, under consumer laws, against travel companies refusing to comply. LCCs are often the main target of card-charge angst. Ryanair rejected the ruling, arguing that its administration fees, which include card charges, were optional and "fully avoidable" for customers using a pre-paid card. Monarch Airlines, which has already abolished all card charges, welcomed the ruling.

easyJet: "We would like to see card charges incorporated into the headline fare, however, for consumers to benefit there needs to be a level playing field. The only way to ensure consumers can make easier price comparisons is if a common treatment of card charges can be agreed across the whole of the transport sector in Europe, including train operators and online travel agents." Spokesperson. Source: BBC News, 28-Jun-2011.

Monarch Airlines: "There is no justification for charging excessive fees on credit and debit cards. We had already taken the decision to cancel debit card fees some time ago following an intensive six month review. Our customers expect an up front and transparent pricing structure from their airline and it’s good to see that in light of this important decision, other airlines will now have to follow our lead. Let us hope they do so without any hand wringing or prevarication.” Conrad Clifford, CEO. Source: Monarch Airlines, 28-Jun-2011. [more]

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