/ Money

Surcharge campaign: help us make a hat trick of successes

Three thumbs up

Before the summer break the OFT recommended government action on excessive surcharging. It’s nearly autumn and we’re as determined as ever to achieve our third and final goal – but we need your help.

With your help we convinced the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) that the surcharges companies charge for paying by card are often hidden and make it difficult to compare like-for-like when finding the best deal.

This is particularly true when it comes to flights. How do you know if you’re getting the best prices if you’re whacked with a £10 fee just as you get to the check-out?

Hooray for success one.

OFT enforcement action

The OFT recommended that companies make the headline price more meaningful for comparisons – including the surcharge cost upfront. It believes this would encourage competition between retailers, driving down the price of genuinely optional surcharges.

The OFT also recommended that the government introduce measures to prohibit retailers from surcharging for debit cards.

With your help, we convinced consumer affairs minster Ed Davey MP to encourage his European Counterparts to adopt a proposal in the Consumer Rights Directive. This means companies will be forced to limit the surcharge they add when you pay by card.

Hooray for success two.

Two years too late?

We were delighted when this legislation was passed, however, the Consumer Rights Directive will take two years to take effect. So, we’ve thought of a more ambitious plan B.

We’ve asked the Treasury’s Mark Hoban – the government’s financial secretary – if the Payment Services Regulations could be amended to ban surcharges. A change to the regs could ban surcharges on the most common payment methods – debit cards at present.

We’ve weighed up if it’s too cheeky to turn to our supporters again. But, you’ve helped us this far and we think you can do it again.

We need your help to make it a hat trick

Will you join us in challenging Mark Hoban to make the change? If you will, there’s just one simple step – add your email address to our letter and we’ll fire off an email to his inbox.

Here’s to a hat trick of successes for consumers and inbox full of emails for Mr Hoban when he returns to the Treasury next week!

Roy Martin says:
29 January 2012

Recently my wife booked 24 tickets for a Scout and Guide gangshow at the Haymarket in Basingstoke, but had to book through the Anvil. Only when she went to pay was she told that there was a £1 PER TICKET charge. “This is not a card charge” she was told, but it didn’t apply if you paid by cheque or in cash! She sent a personal cheque, but was telephoned and told that they “only accept business cheques”! Fortunately, a cheque raised on our Scout account WAS accepted.


What many don’t realise is that if charges are banned/restricted on the one hand, it can be got around by pushing up the prices for other things or making savings by cutting service quality. There are no ways around the laws of economics. The market (which are people) simply adjusts to compensate.

joe belfast says:
15 May 2012

just paid a tax bill to HMRC and then they took an extra £12.40 because I used a credit card