Which? Launch super complaint on card fee charges
February 14th, 2011 by elisa

Consumer rights charity, Which? is to submit a super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over credit and debit card charges. The biggest culprits are discount airlines which often charge huge amounts right at the point of sale for using a debit or credit card, some charge per person or per leg of the flight despite only having to process one transaction.

For example, a family of four booking a return flight with Ryanair would be charged £40 to pay by card when the cost to the airline is only around 20 pence to process a debit card and no more than 2% of the transaction value for a credit card. The same family would be charged £36 by Flybe. Flying with EasyJet would cost £5.50 for paying for return flights by debit card or £5.50 plus 2.5% of the transaction if paying by credit card.

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says: ‘There’s simply no justification for excessive card charges – paying by card should cost the consumer the same amount that it costs the retailer. Companies shouldn’t be using card processing costs as an excuse for boosting their profits.

‘Low-cost airlines are some of the worst offenders when it comes to excessive card surcharges but this murky practice is becoming ever more widespread, from cinemas to hotels and even some local authorities.’

Which? wants its super complaint to result in:

  • Companies to tell consumers upfront if they have surcharges and how much they are – this needs to be in plain language in their advertising and promotions
  • Fair charges – the costs to the consumer should be the same as the cost to the company – this should not be a hidden way of making money
  • For debit cards, as the cost to the retailer is so small, we think it’s more reasonable for the retailer to absorb the cost and not pass it on to their customers

Which? will be submitting its super-complaint in March and is today launching a petition, which it will hand to the OFT at the same time.

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