/ Money

Our super-size surcharges campaign continues

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What a week! We had a giggle at Ryanair calling us ‘clueless clowns’ and watched airlines defend their ‘admin’ charges. But it’s not just airlines getting under your skin, the culprits include dentists and theatres.

Last Friday you joined us in standing up to unfair surcharges. We had high hopes that you’d feel as strongly about this as we do but we were overwhelmed by your support.

You’ve given us great feedback about who the goodies and baddies are – and highlighted other areas we can look into. So we thought you’d be keen to hear what happens next…

What happens to your pledges?

We’ve received over 17,000 pledges of support. We’ll be using your pledges as evidence in our super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to demonstrate the number of UK consumers affected by this issue. We’re submitting it at the end of March. If you still haven’t pledged your support you can do so here:

It’s not just about airlines

You might have thought the super complaint is just about the airlines as this has been the focus of our pledge.

But it goes further than that. The surcharge super complaint raises issue with any industry charging unfair card fees – anything above 1-2% if paying by credit card and anything above 20p if paying by debit card!

Low cost airlines are often the worst offenders. But you’ve given us plenty more to add to that list. You’ve told us about dentists, cinemas, theatres, and even local councils stinging you with charges when it’s time to pay.

Your concerns about surcharges

Commenter Stephen Hicks raised concerns over how retailers will make up their losses if the OFT find the surcharges are unfair. ‘Ticket prices would rise to compensate, but at least we would not feel ripped off,’ he said.

Richard told us ‘it is easy enough – make all companies quote the actual cost to the customer at point of sale’. We’re definitely behind you on that one.

Dave Darwent told us that we’re just touching the surface of this issue. ‘Which? is missing a fantastic opportunity here to really help smaller traders: the Super Complaint should be about the BANKS charging these fees and forcing the retailers to have to pay for telephone and electricity services too.’

The digital community has rallied together to get our pledge promoted in all the right places, too. A big thank you to Martin Lewis for flagging it in your latest email and Travel Supermarket and Money High Street for embedding it on your sites. We’ve even made the embed code available so you can put it wherever you like (sorry Ryanair, you can’t stick it there).

We’re keeping track of all your examples to explain the breadth of the issue to the OFT. Please keep your ideas and personal experiences coming in. You never know, it might become the focus of our next investigation.

Bob Power says:
25 March 2011

I am a frequent user of Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic. I have recently paid a proportion of a holiday with you costing £16,030.00. The proportion I paid was £5044 for which I used my Mastercard and was charged a 2% surcharge of £102.00. I previously paid a deposit of £100 for which I was charged 2% also.

I am told by Mastercard that to administer a transaction through an account costs pence and that surcharges are applied by some retailers as another “tax” or ways of making extra money. This has been highlighted in the Dail Mail today and has also sparked an investigation into this practice by the Office of Fair Trading. I cannot believe the additional charges that are applied just for using a credit card

Julia Elvidge says:
25 March 2011

I can’t believe it, I just booked a flight with Flybe and had to pay £9 debit card charge!

Dorothy Turner says:
25 March 2011

Having just made a ferry booking Liverpool Birkenhead to Belfast, with DFDS, I would have been charged £4.00 had I paid by credit card!

Not only that, there was the charge for the ferry then £12 per passenger (including the driver!!)

And a fuel surcharge of £32

My 2x£77 trip came to £210.00

Brian Burgess says:
26 March 2011

Companies/organisations Don’t (or don’t want) to realise the difference between the charges they incur when taking payment by debit card. It is actually cheaper for them to accept payment via debit card, than to accept payment via cheque and in some instances cash.

If they take payment by debit card, the money is credited straight into their bank account. I had this conversation with a local theatre, trying to explain to them the difference. If they take payment via cheque or cash, someone in the office has to count the cash/cheques and enter details in a paying in book. Someone then has to go physically to the bank to pay in. In the case of cheques they have to wait a further 4 days for the cheque to clear.


Companies trading over the internet could not function if everyone insisted on paying in cash. They would not be viable. It should be illegal to make charges for payment and payments requested should include all the expenses incurred in delivering a complete service or item. We already pay the banks for the use of Credit cards directly or indirectly. It has never been practice to charge a till fee when taking cash. In addition it should be illegal for organisations like Paypal to hold onto monies interest free until it deems the purchaser has had 3-4 weeks to accept that the goods are satisfactory.
Every organisation seems to be looking for scams to get easy money – we are not customers, just mugs begging to be mugged in their eyes.

Pete says:
26 March 2011

Add Odeon cinema to the list of culprits. Just booked 2 tickets online for the cinema tonight only to be charged £1.50 extra as a debit card fee …

Fran says:
27 March 2011

I recently signed up via the internet to run a 10K race in the Edinburgh marathon festival ..happening on the weekend of 21/22 May. At the end of the process I was alarmed to find that on top of the fee to take part…£22 .. there suddenly appeared a £2.50 procesing fee. Well I was annoyed enough to e mail the promoters GSi events I think they were called and suffice to say they could not even manage to send me a reply.

David says:
28 March 2011

‘Interflora’ online – wanted an extra £1 for paying by credit card this morning. At a £24.99 for the flowers and £5.99 for delivery means more than 3% added to the order. I paid by direct debit which did not incur a charge and in future I’ll not use them again.