/ 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.

Comments
Guest
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

Guest
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!

Guest
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

Guest
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.

Profile photo of andmikel
Guest

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.

Guest
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 …

Guest
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.

Guest
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.

Profile photo of fat sam
Guest

I still don’t understand the issue unless these charges are hidden. It’s only because being charged for credit cards, etc. Is an increasingly used practice that it’s got people’s backs up.

After all, how many of us bat an eyelid about postage and packing charges. We seem to be happy to consider paying for this particular overhead in the total price. It’s no different.

It’s only annoying if you’re not told about surcharges up front, ie. before you pay.

Look at it another way: if people prefer to use a debit card where there’s no charge why should they incur the overheads of the company that has to deal with credit card fees?

If you didn’t have to pay extra charges and companies absorbed them I can guarantee that nearly all companies will include them in the prices but will then increases these prices for EVERYONE.

Guest
Alan says:
29 March 2011

If you use a credit card you are I believe protected by the card company. Using your debit card you have no protection you just loose your money. It isn’t the charge but the huge amount that is charged. If the companies absorbed the 70p overhead or even added it in fine, but charging 2% or even more and then blaming the card company is fraud. And worse is when they make multiple charges for one transaction. You don’t pay more VAT for using four fivers than if you pay with a twenty do you.

Guest
tommy davidson says:
28 March 2011

For the past few years sagazone in Manchester have met every Christmas at the Brittannia Hotel in Manchester for a party. The charge was £ 9.50 for the meal with bevrages extra. We could pay by credit card or debit card with no extra charge.
However this year they( Brittannia) have decided to charge £2.00 on top of the cost for the meal. This means, as it is a little early in the year to book for the party, if anyone decides to pay a deposite then the rest nearer the date of the party it will cost an exra £4.00. This has put me off going.
I feel this is an unecessary extra charge.

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Guest

i’m not being funny but
a. if you have to pay for a £9 meal (+£2 charge) in two separate instalments you have got bigger issues than worrying about extra charges!

b. £9 for a meal at a hotel sounds an absolute bargain!

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Guest

If you’ve not spotted it already, check out the pledge counter – 40,000 + supporters! http://www.which.co.uk/ripoff Thank you all for your support :0)

Guest
elspeth ferguson says:
28 March 2011

I was shocked when on a Fred Olsen cruise I discovered the were charging 2.5% for paying my bill at end. This is very short sighted as I was determined not to spend in the shops onboard. I bought everything off ship so they lost a lot of business. Stupid. I did make a compalint to the purser. Not really interested.

Guest
James MacQueen says:
29 March 2011

Although I have not been ripped-off , as yet, I just wonder what will happen when cheques disappear.
I think that companies will charge what they like and there will be more rip-offs. There needs to be legislation to stop this type of thing.

Guest
Dr. Hugh Janus says:
29 March 2011

Booking fees and handling charges on tickets for gigs and events should be the next rip-off targetted. It’s like going into a shop and asking how much a pair of shoes are only to be told: “It’s £35 for the shoes but if you want me to sell them to you it’ll be £42.” It’s legalised extortion, plain and simple.

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Guest

I know I keep harping on about this but I am worried about the consequences if this campaign. For example, lets say a ticket costs £49 plus £2.95 handling fee. The total amount to pay is £51.95. If companies are forced to scrap these ‘extras’ what do you think will happen?

Most will likely charge £55 and claim they are doing us a favour with a free booking service. Is that what we want?

Please dont be so naive in thinking that companies will absorb the cost because they will not! At least the current practice, annoying as it is, offers some transparency.

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Guest

Fat Sam, what irritates me is the way they try to hide booking fees in the small print, so we initially see a ticket at £49 and say “Oh yes I can afford that!” and that whets our appetite to spend. If the tickets were advertised as “£51.95 incl booking” we would be much better informed right from the start and wouldn’t waste our time. Why do you think the tickets would cost £55 and not £51.95 if they were forced to state the total cost clearly?

(By the way, your example of a £2.95 booking fee is perhaps not a good one, as the fee is likely to be much higher for a West End show.)

Profile photo of fat sam
Guest

Clint, my example was just that – an example to illustrate the principle.

Maybe I’m not like everyone else but I check the total amount of what I’m paying before I commit myself. Because I know companies use these ‘sharp practices’ I make it my business to understand what all the charges are so that:
a. I can make sure I get the best price I can if there is a choice of companies offering the same product or service and
b. I can make a decision on whether I want to make the purchase at all.

All the people who disagree with me just want something to moan about without understanding the basic and simple principles of economics and personal choice! Nor do they want to make that little effort on points a and b above.

Guest
ojack says:
30 March 2011

I was disgusted when vue cinema changed their web site to a new format only to find they had done more than that i booked five kids AM tickets at a cost of £5 only to find at the checkout process i have a debit YES DEBIT card charge of £3.50p what a rip off this charge used to be £1.75p even that was steep but £3.50 is a rip off and double the old charge. We live about 13 miles from vue so we have to book online for kids am as it gets very busy it made me that angry that when they had the cheek to send me a customer satisfaction survey i made sure i gave them what for ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Guest
Alan says:
30 March 2011

Fat Sam…It isn’t the charge but the amount and random nature of it. Why if I book a ticket for one I pay a charge but if I pay for four tickets I get charged four times., both are done in one transaction not four. And one strange airline will charge me eight times for four tickets. And why is it called an admin charge..the shop doesn’t pay anybody to call the card company for every transaction it is all done by phone and computers, what admin do they have? Why is the amount based on a percent, they are charged for each transaction not by how much it is for so a charge of 70p for a family holiday results in a charge of £57. Sounds fair to you I guess…

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Guest

Where have I said that it’s fair?

I’m not saying they’re right but:

1. You have a choice to either purchase or not to purchase
2. The fees aren’t hidden – admittedly it’s not completely clear but everyone will know what they have to pay at some point in the transaction
3. If these retailers didn’t display these extra fees they would have an open licence to up their charges to more than what the fees add up to and then claim they are doing us a favour by offering the service with ‘all costs included’. I don’t sthink many businesses see themselves as charities and the only losers will be us because we will all end up paying more as a result of campaigns like these.

It’s not difficult to understand any of those points above but some people think we live in a society where companies aren’t in the business to make money.

Guest

Fat Sam – I don’t agree with you at all. You’re saying campaigns like this will give companies ‘open licence to up their charges to more than what the fees add up to’ – but that’s exactly what they are doing. Only instead of hiding the costs, they’re putting it into their small print. This campaign is to stop companies charging unfairly – which is what they are doing! Companies may not want to absorb the cost of taking money from card companies but why should they profit from it? Especially online companies whose only real option is to get paid by card!

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Guest

Sorry Steve, disagree with you completely.

If companies are forced to put an end to all these charges they will simply up the headline figure. They’ll want to maintain profits – they’re businesses, not charities run for our benefit.

These charge aren’t hidden – they are there. For some people they may not be easy to find but I’ve never had a problem finding them. But then, perhaps I’m more financially-savvy than most (have you taken the BBC’s Big Money Test?). Yes, it’s a pain in the bottom and irritating but look at the wider picture.

People are complaining that no-frills airlines charge for this, that and the other on top of the advertised rate. When you add it all up you have a choice: go with it, or don’t. Most of the time they will still be cheaper overall than the likes of the non- no-frills carriers like British Airways.

The bottom line is that companies will find ways to recoup any loss in profit if they are forced to reduce or drop all these extra charges.

How do people think they will do that?

Answers below, please 😉

Guest

Let them increase the cost of the headline figure then – at least they’d be more honest about how they make their profits! Making a profit on the goods or services they offer and then asking to make a profit on payment is greedy, not fair business.

Last I heard, credit card charges are about 70p – so why charge a percentage? If someone’s buying 4 tickets, why should they pay a percentage of each ticket and not one flat fee? My favourite so far from this discussion is the theatre who adds 1% admin fees for paying with cash. At what point should admin not be included in the price – after all, every business has admin so it should be included into the final price… Or soon, we could be paying cost price until we get to the till and they add up the mark up, admin, etc.

Guest
Elaine Ashton says:
30 March 2011

I purchased a holiday on Sunday and when paying was horrified to notice the extortionate charge when paying on a debit card. I am just about used to expecting charges on a credit card but when I called the booking operator to complain that this was just a rip off charge she explained it was because we are booking with Ryanair who are, she said, the worst offenders.

Trouble is, we are over a barrell in a way, as they only flight we could get to our destination at the date and time we need were RyanAir – otherwise I’d have happily paid more to go elsewhere.

Guest
Dr. Hugh Janus says:
30 March 2011

Fat Sam, you are wrong assume that by scrapping booking fees and handling charges the same charges will result in higher ticket prices. Booking agencies are third parties and have no say in setting the face value of ticket prices – this is done by promoters who already pay these outlets a commission on each ticket sold. These charges didn’t exist 20 years ago and there’s no justifiable reason why they should now. They know we’re like football fans – we’ll complain about the way our team is run but we’ll still turn up every Saturday and hand over our cash. Nothing will change unless we force it to. Petitions are a start but, ultimately, we need to say no and boycott these events.

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Guest

Yes, I agree – people should vote with their feet – so if you don’t agree with paying extra fees then don’t make that purchase! It really is that simple!

It’s the same with people who complain about ticket touts. If people are prepared to pay that amount then these practices will continue.

However, I disagree with your comment on what may happen regards ticket prices. Ticket agents offer a service to promoters who need the best means to distribute and manage their sales. Agents will pass on their additional costs to the promoters (otherwise, how else are ticket agencies going to make any money?) who will need to recoup their increased costs. How? By increasing their ticket prices to all of us.

Someone, somewhere has to pay and I don’t like paying these fees myself, I find them annoying and irritating, but I am also not that naive in thinking that companies will allow these costs to hit their profits and will therefore, ultimately, pass these onto us – the poor, hapless consumer who will be ripped off even more because now we don’t know what element will be cost and what element will be mark-up.

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Guest

Thanks for all these great comments – we’ve now submitted our super complaint, which we’ve written about in our latest Conversation. Please show your support! http://www.whichconversation.co.uk/consumer-rights/which-super-complaint-surcharges-submitted/

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Guest

Can I just add that I love these debates. Can I suggest a topic for the next one:

Why don’t we solve the humongous debt by getting the banks to print money.

Of course, that would be ridiculous. But the point I’m making is that whilst we think certain practices are annoying and irritating, if you look under the covers, there is a reason why they happen. And if people genuinely think printing money would solve all our problems then I fear they really have lost the plot!

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Guest

You may be interested in this topic then – it pretty much amounts to printing money: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/local-currencies/ Though it’s not the banks printing it 🙂

Guest
PCK says:
1 April 2011

An estate agent (not Foxtons) has charged my office £53.55 for making a credit card payment of £1103.55 to secure a rental property !!!

Guest
Philip Devine says:
4 April 2011

It is not just big busineses with unfair surcharges. My local theatre in Loughborough charge a booking fee of £1 even when paying by cash. This the claim is an admin charge. However they already take a fee for this from the local theatre groups in there charges.

Guest
Trasna says:
4 April 2011

I booked a holiday cottage with Sykes Cottages. They wanted £6 to pay by credit card. Fortunately I have a Visa debit card which I believe still gives protection.

Guest
MikiLeighB says:
4 April 2011

Can’t quite believe what has just happened!!! Just booked what I thought was an excellent flight deal from Ryanair to Limoges in May for two people. £12 per person each way with no taxes and free online check-in equals £48 you would think….NO!! Just been charged £6 per person per flight for using a Visa Debit card!! That’s £24, or put another way a 50% increase in price for using a Debit card online!!!! Good luck on the super complaint…..Ryanair should be taken to court and made to pay back every penny…..

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Guest

Yes, outrageous. £36 each for a return flight to Limoges, sounds really awful. I’m assuming you didn’t go through with it, as it sounds completely outrageous, and that you voted with your feet? Please don’t tell us you actually went ahead and.. booked it?

And the next cheapest fare was…?

I really don’t understand what people are complaining about. Seriously I am scratching my head.

Guest
Dr. Hugh Janus says:
5 April 2011

Come on, Fat Sam, you know the complaint isn’t about the overall cost of the flights. I’m sure if MkLeighB had been told the flights would cost £36 with no surcharges he would’ve been delighted with that price. It’s the dishonesty of the surcharges he’s objecting to. Credit card payments are not only convenient for the buyer but the seller too so to make these charges punitive is pure exploitation. This, remember, is the airline that introduced charges for passengers to use the toilet. Maybe if Michael Ryan wasn’t so fond of betting on the horses he could afford to let them pee for free.

Guest
R Sanderson says:
5 April 2011

There is no justification for introducing a charge for using a credit card for payment. The travel companies were the first to introduce it because they said the profit margins were too small and therefore needed to make a charge to defray the costs.
This was rubbish and if it had been challenged at the time this policy would not have been continued. Credit card users have forgotten that these companies have their payment by card guaranteed by the banks provided that they follow the rules which are very basic. Not only that, the funds are credited to their account immediately instead of waiting for cheques to clear. Cash in their account. Time has moved on and debit cards can be used but these debit the user immediately with the obvious demands whereas the use of a credit or charge card allows the user to manage their money efficiently without undue pressure. The travel company gains and so does the user! Rates charged by credit card companies are negotiated with the retail company. generally these rates relate to turnover and also to profit margins – for example a jeweller will pay a higher rate than someone with a lower profit margin [at least they did in my day!] to be honest it really ****** me off that these companies introduce a charge. As a retired bank manager I understand the reasons that these companies try to screw the public but it is outrageous and should be resisted at all times.
I take my car to be serviced annually to a main dealer. A couple of years ago Mercedes said that they would not accept cheques and additionally they wanted to charge for accepting credit cards. They were told in no uncertain term that they would never, ever service my car and if possible any of my friends if they pursued this policy. They still include it in their charges but I have heard them say ‘we will wave that charge’ (big deal!!!!!!) We have to fight and even cut off our nose to spite our face! Please support the [no credit card charge] campaign. There isn’t one; it’s up to you to dig your heels in!

Guest
Jal says:
5 April 2011

A couple of years ago I bought tickets from the Nottingham Arena for the Ice Hockey playoff weekend at £70 per adult weekend ticket (3 games), each ticket attracted a £7 booking fee as I paid with a credit card. An additional £28 on 4 tickets!! Not a bad earner is it for someone?! Needless to say I have since bought my tickets in person and paid face value in cash – which opens another can of worms, businesses paying cash into the bank are hammered for much bigger fees than the banks charge for their merchant services, so how come these aren’t multiplied and passed on to the long suffering customer as the card charges are??

Guest
G.V. Annoyed says:
7 April 2011

London Theatres! – what more can I say.

If you want to book a ticket ahead of time (and can’t physically get to the booking office) the ticket offices really rip you off. I recently bought 4 tickets from Ticketmaster and paid £32 service charge (£8/ticket) plus £3.75 processing fee. There was no remote way, that I could see, of avoiding these astronomical add ons.

Guest
Patrick says:
13 April 2011

I realise that this would never happen but it would be brilliant if the credit card companies conspired to not process payments to companies that are known to rip off customers for using their cards. If customers weren’t able to buy flights with credit cards I think the airlines (and others) would soon change their practices.

BTW. You can add Eurocamp to your list of ‘offenders’

Guest
MICHAEL PETTY says:
13 April 2011

I have booked a holiday with Viking River Cruises and was informed that a 2% charge would be applied to pay using my Credit Card this amounted to £65. I therfore paid using my Debit Card.
How can such a sum be remotely justified?

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Guest

Here’s a game. Next time you’re charged 2.5% for using a card, complain that everyone else is charging 3% and insist they do the same! They won’t know whether to treat you as a crank or think they’re missing a trick!

Guest
Sue Wearne-Handforth says:
23 April 2011

Even London 2012 Ticketing for the Olympics is at it!
On the very last page of the application form there is a £6 ‘Delivery Cost’! (or £12 if outside the UK).
Either it is incorrectly termed & is in reality a ‘processing fee’ or just an additional income for the Company. Imagine the total additional revenue gleened from all successful applicants. Massive!

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Guest

Tickets like these are always sent Special Delivery to guarantee delivery (unlike Recorded delivery). Special Delivery costs £5.45 and includes compensation in the event of loss.

Doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. The Olympics are expensive enough – why should taxpayers subsidise event attendees’ postal delivery charges?

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Guest

Fat Sam obviously has time to to read all the small print for every transaction he makes. Crossing t’s and dotting i’s. Because so many businesses are devious to the point of being fraudulent and clever, clever. This should be illegal! All offers to provide a service or goods should include all costs pertaining to the receipt of those services in FULL to include delivery, where this is the only way the transaction can be completed advertised as the total expenditure. If there are situations where concessions can be made, such as collection from a local supplier or from a cinema kiosk then these should be subject to a rebate. Open ended contracts such as day work and mutual agreements are elements for some trades and tasks but there you have fully detailed contract with contingencies written in with appropriate adjudication proportional to risk. As normal purchases of every day items or services we should not be obliged to run the gauntlet of small print with exclusions and special cases designed to increase the headline price of any normal variation.
I do not expect to pay my bus fare and then find that I have to pay extra for carrying a shopping bag and extra for seat and extra to get off. That is a close analogy to the way we are being rooked.
It can only be described a deceit and sharp practice and should be outlawed then we may see more open competition for our custom and the step by step method of parting us from our money once we have made a commitment lead to bankruptcy for the smart alec’s. It should also apply all financial services. Making excuses for a lack of honesty stinks.

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Guest

Nobody needs to look at the Ts and Is.

Just look at the figure displayed next to the words ‘amount to pay’. It really couldn’t be much simpler.

If you don’t like it then don’t do it. Are people finding that really difficult? Seems like one of life’s easier choices. No wonder we live in ‘Rip Off Britain’ when there’s a huge market in this country for people literally asking to be ripped off! Your choice!

Guest
Chris says:
26 April 2011

I recently needed to make a last minute final balance payment of over £2,000 to Page & Moy for a holiday. There was a charge for credit card payment but debit card was free. However, I was waiting for a savings account transfer to come through into my current account so that I could use my debit card without going overdrawn. As we would be away on the date when the balance payment was due, I phoned Page & Moy and asked if they could take a debit card payment now but defer it until the final due date. They said they could not do this. I then suggested that I could send them a cheque which should arrive after my savings transfer had gone through but before the due date. They said that they would charge a £10 “handling fee” for cheque transactions!

I couldn’t see any reference to this charge in their literature and wonder if this is the latest form of attack on cheque usage. I am concerned as it is about the intended withdrawal of cheques. In the end, the savings transfer came through in time for me to make the balance payment before going away but these organisations do seem to push you into a corner where there is little option but pay fees of some sort.

Guest
Marie McDonald says:
27 April 2011

I paid a monthly broadband subscription of £10.62 to Talk Talk by credit card. I’ve had an additional £4.50 added to my account for not paying by direct debit. That’s 42% of the monthly charge!!

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Guest

Or – for those who pay by Direct Debit – see it as a £4.50/month discount.

Guest

Fat Sam, I’m beginning to think you’re either someone who runs a business that charges customers for using cards – or you’re the kind of person who walks into a shop, takes everything there and walks out without paying on the belief that you get a 5 finger discount…

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Guest

Fat sam says just look at the amount to pay, we are saying that the T Total amount to pay is greater than the headline offer price in the advertised cost for the the item or service. They don’t list the cost of ‘extras’ or give any indication of additional costs. Trading Standards and The Advertising Authority should use their powers to fine companies or ban their adverts if they mislead. All we are asking for is up front honesty, not a screed written by politicians. The i’s would be worn out if you went through all the terms and conditions of many traders and many of them are unreasonable any way. You would be too old to utilise some service by the time you had found out the full meanings and eliminated all the ambiguities. You may have the time and the wit but we mere mortals have lives to lead

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Guest

Michael, give me an example where a company charged you more than the amount you saw you had to pay at the point of paying. If that is the case, then that’s fraud. But I await your evidence.

Agreed, many companies pile on charges above the often advertised headline figure, but at most that’s annoying and irritating. Agreed. But ultimately, the total amount owed is shown at the point you have to pay. Whether or not you go ahead with that transaction, or refrain, or complain, is entirely up to you.

If you are charged more than the amount shown then people have my sympathy, but that’s not what’s being reported in nearly every example in this conversation.

If you remove companies’ ability to show these additional charges (e.g. through legislation) they will simply raise their prices to over the total charges and then claim they are all doing us a favour. Who wants that?

By the way, Michael, I do have a life and a very good, rewarding and prosperous one at that. Partly because I play businesses at their own game but partly because I educate myself in the fairly easy and simple art of shopping around. The internet is stuffed full of useful tools and for a few minutes work you can save yourself a small fortune. If you can’t be bothered to invest in a few minutes work I can’t see how you can complain.

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Guest

Fat Sam,
I yearn for the day when I see a price advertised for a holiday
or flights and know that is actually what I will end up paying. The range of
“extras” is becoming ridiculous – credit card fees, fuel surcharges, in flight meals,
boarding pass fees, luggage charges, seats together, seats with some legroom etc etc
I don’t understand why you seem happy with this type of
customer service. I am becoming very tired of playing this game. You don’t happen to
be an airline marketing manager, do you?

Guest
Dr. Hugh Janus says:
30 April 2011

Rather than an airline manager, I suspect Sam is one of those people who always has to take the opposite view from everyone else in an attempt to provoke a reaction, which, it has to be said, he has shown himself to be very adept at doing. I’m sure Sam is no happier at being ripped off than the rest of us but playing Devil’s Advocate is much more fun than being just another voice in a chorus of dissent.

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entelechy, can you read? If you could then you will have read that I have stated repeatedly that these charges are annoying and irritating. Does that sound like I’m happy? You tell me.

The point I’m making is that we have a choice and if we completely outlawed this practice that companies will find other ways to recoup their losses and hide their charges in far higher prices. Brilliant. Not.

I’d only be in favour of making additional charges much clearer – but wouldn’t support an outright ban.

Dr Hugh Janus, thank you – you’re almost right. I tend to look at all arguments and then form an objective opinion based on evidence – rather than emotions. Put it this way: I’m not the type who gets excited about protecting a species just because it happens to be cute and furry. Unlike, I suspect, most of those above.

The British love a good moan. How can people moan about additional charges on no frills flight prices when, even with all the charges added on, they are still MILES cheaper than the no-extra-charges frills competition! Ridiculous.

I don’t see many moaning about companies adding on P&P charges. But that’s acceptable even when the charges clearly exceed the actual cost of P&P. We don’t like things that may appear different, do we?

PS I wish people would read my posts more carefully. And form an objective opinion instead of jumping on to some emotional bandwagon.

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I have been embarrassed when asked to pay more than the advertised price at a cinema with a credit card charge, with a long queue behind me, I did not take great issue as a) I wanted to see the film and had already paid out train fare and b) I did not want to create a riot by holding up the queue while I had a long argument. Suffice it to say, I said my piece briefly in a loud voice and two people behind me left the queue. I have also been charged a higher than advertised price at Supermarkets on occasions and have taken issue at their customer services desk. Success rate for refund about 50-50. Many would not challenge their bill. Like you, I shop expeditiously and research most of my major purchases as I too like to get the best value I can. My argument is that as a customer for a service which comprises other essential elements to be included before it can effectively be delivered should include the cost of the total package. I should think many of these additional charge airlines may soon start smelling strongly of urine. They take the p – they can keep it!

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Gill Wales says:
3 May 2011

My local theatre and concert hall (Brighton Dome, owned by Brighton and Hove City council) adds a 90p per ticket charge to tickets paid for by either debit or credit card. This is not to cover postage, it applies to tickets bought in person at the box ofice. The extra charge is not advertised in advance and there is no notice about it at the box office. So you only find out about it at the point of paying for the putchase.

They claim that the charges are added by the event promoters, which I don’t believe, since the charg is applied regardless of the event. Given the price of tickets and that most people will buy at least two per event, each transaction is much more than a typical cash purchase, so buyers have to go to considerable trouble (cancelling the purcahse, finding a cash point and then requeuing all voer again) to avoid paying it.

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Gill Wales says:
3 May 2011

Since a law change in October 2010, pubs and restaurants must sell wine in 125 ml measures as well as 175ml and 250ml. But many pubs charge only 25p less than for a 175ml measure (the differential between 175ml and 250ml being around £1). One pub, when asked for a 125ml glass of wine, said ‘I can sell you 125ml but I will have to charge you for 175ml’. The purpose of the law change was to discourage people (especially women) drinking too much too quickly. This pricing behaviour undermines an important public health initiative.