/ 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!

David says:
23 December 2011

Not read the postings for some time but still smarting from paying extra £42 when paying Thomson nearly £5000 to take the family to Cyprus in September. Thought it was a funny amount but I can now see it was 7 x £6 (including 2 children) for just one transaction. This rip-off on top of the profit they made!

ashore says:
30 December 2011

This is good news really, but why wait until the end of 2012? It just gives the airlines a year to dream up ways of charging more on other things to replace the extortionate card fees. And they will !

Ryanair are the biggest culprit in airlines and say their charge is an admin fee and not for using a card. Can this be allowed when there is no “admin fee” for using their own card that they have introduced recently?

As Loz says, the airline booking or transaction charge is just as big a rip off as the card charge as both are unavoidable and should be included in the headline price.

However a bigger issue is the charge made by VISA. Every purchase made with a credit and most debit cards involve paying a percentage or fee to the same american bank. It doesn’t matter if it’s VISA or Mastercard or Switch or what name is on the card, every transaction involves payment to the american bank VISA. This is a monopoly situation that should never have been allowed and a drain on our econony that we cannot afford.

Emma Scobbie says:
2 January 2012

I have just booked with easyjet using a debit mastercard. However, their system does not recognise the card as a debit card and I can only book if I select credit card. this means I incurr a whopping £16 charge on top of my booking instead of the usual ripping me off £10 charge for a debit card. I have to take the flight so I still had to book. Is this an Easyjet dodge to get around the no charge for using a debit card by the end of 2012 ruling? Perhaps they have just put an intentional glich in their system that now does not recognise some debit cards so they get their ri[ off money anyway, knowing that only a very small percentage of people will complain. (One of those being me as I have sent my complaint). wondered if anyone else has come across this problem? Emma

Steve Walker says:
10 January 2012

Just tried to book with Ryanair, failed. I just discovered their latest ploy with payment methods, the use of their own pre-paid card. Then read the various blogs on the internet, and decided that its not a card for me. It is surely against any “fair trading” laws at the moment? And if not lets get some new ones passed ASAP. Its a card with the sole purpose of sneakily hiding crucial financial implications and very akin to the most disreputable schemes around.
I wonder, could customers of Ryanair show their disapproval with a “mass booking” day, not making any bookings, just clog their systems?

I’ve recently paid my annual Management Fees to a holiday company. They employ the services of the First National Trust Company (FNTC) to process their credit and debit card payments. FNTC has introduced a new admin fee of 2.5% this year for payments made using Debit Cards. (Previously this charge was only applied to credit cards payments.) For me this new charge increased my costs by just over £54! I consider this new ‘admin charge’ as blatant profiteering by FNTC. Will FNTC come under the same new legislation as airline companies and companies selling tickets for entertainment events as has recently been announced by the Government for introduction later this year?

terry says:
19 January 2012

Its time that it is made illegal to impose charges for useing your credit card,there are no more admin chages than useind a debit card.The only reason is for retailers, companys impose charges is to make money out of us the public, another big big RIP OFF,time somthing is done now not later NOW.

As I said in my previous post, Rynair continue to get away with calling their fee an “admin charge” yet no admin charge is made when using the Ryanair card. I have just paid £48 “admin fee” on 4 return flights. It is appalling that they are allowed to do this but millions of people book their flight(as I have just done!) so they will continue to get away with it. I don’t see how any new regulation is going to solve this

Jayne says:
25 January 2012

I have complained to the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham about their surcharge on Debit cards. I went to purchase two tickets for the Ice Hockey play-offs totalling £140 and was told i would have to pay £14 extra – 10%. I know these have to be processed and staff paid etc etc but isnt 10% a bit over the top when for that amount it would’nt have gone through if the money had not been available. I turned to the cash machine instead and paid £1.84 for taking the cash. The arena say they are quite within their rights to make such charges as they are a Ticket Agent ( for their own events???)

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