/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Help us in the final push to get ‘rip-off’ surcharges banned

Good news. The government has released its long-overdue consultation into banning excessive surcharges. We now need your help in the final push to get ‘rip-off’ surcharges banned.

As avid readers of my posts – thanks mum – will know, we’ve been waiting for the government to consult on this for some time. In fact it was back when we persuaded Treasury Minister, Mark Hoban, to ban excessive surcharges last December.

He committed to banning excessive debit and credit card surcharges by bringing in a rule in the Consumer Rights Directive 18 months early to the end of December 2012.

This was a mighty victory for everyone who had supported our stop ‘rip-off’ surcharges campaign. But since all the fireworks of Mark Hoban’s announcement, the government has been sheepishly quiet on the issue. We were even worried at one point that it was trying to break its promise by delaying the ban after ministers tried to circumvent the issue during Treasury and BIS question times.

After a few pokes from us, the government’s promise to ban excessive surcharges by the end of 2012 seems to be back on track. While we would have loved it to introduce the surcharges ban immediately, unfortunately a little thing called democracy got in the way, so it has to get everyone’s views on whether the ban is a good idea.

Of course, we already know most of you support the ban. Over 50,000 of you took action to support our campaign in some way and we received thousands of examples of ‘rip-off’ surcharges from you last year.

Respond to the government’s surcharges consultation

We will be submitting our own response to the government’s consultation before the 12 October deadline. But it’s really important the government hears what you think about the ban.

Our latest research shows that 77% of you thought the charges were unfair (up from 70% in 2011) and 82% wanted the government to ban excessive surcharges without delay. So we’re really keen for you to you remind the government why it’s so important to you.

If unlike me, you don’t want to trawl through this quite technical document, you can post your views here on Which? Conversation and we’ll put them all together in a big dossier to send to the government to show ministers what you think.

I’ve pulled out two questions that it would be great to hear your views on, but feel free to answer the other questions listed in the full consultation too:

  • Do you agree that we should implement the ban on above-cost surcharges before the EU transposition deadline? (What the government really wants to ask here is: do you think we should stick to our promise and ban excessive surcharges by the end of 2012?)
  • Please give evidence of the use of payment surcharges for means of payment other than credit, debit, prepaid or charge cards.

So, please do share your views on this! The government promised to ban ‘rip-off’ surcharges with your support and it’s only right that it hears your views in the final push.


There are ways around this as a certain well known cheap fares airline shown by ensuring we all have to pay a £6 admin charge for each leg of any flight to cover the cost of their website and web-booking system. Additionally, the same airline that waived those fees if you used its own pre-paid cash card has now dropped the discount so there seems to be no way of avoiding a surcharge by any other name!

Martin Waller says:
23 January 2013

With regard to the new Consumer Rights Directive I understand that:


Every local weights and measures authority in Great Britain and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland, together with the Office of Fair Trading, have the authority to apply for enforcement orders against traders charging excessive surcharges under the new legislation.

So, I think we need to get as many people as possible to write in to the authorities and complain about BT. If enough people write in then they must do something about it?

Mollie Walton says:
30 May 2013

I don’t know how many companies charge a percentage of the total cost of a holiday if you pay by credit card, but Saga certainly do. I have taken several cruises with them and thoroughly recommend them – except for their admin! They charge 1% if you pay with a saga card, which for two people can be £900 or more. If you use any other credit card the charge is 2 1/2!

I thought the idea was that a company should only charge to cover their costs, not make a sneaky extra profit.

Martin Waller says:
31 May 2013


You need to look at “The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012”. Then you need to go to trading standards – it is their job to police it – they may not realize that yet as it’s only recently been introduced but it’s a fact. Don’t be put off by them asking you if you have spoken to the company involved. You don’t need to if it down to them to police it. The legislation states that you can only by charged for the transaction what they pay and Trading Standards should have the ability to ask for the actual cost to them which will be now more than a few pounds.

Having said all this I’m currently have Trading Standards in London looking into the £6 BT make for payment processing and to date they have got no where!

Best of Luck