Following an article back in June on debit card charges, I reported that the Office of Fair Trading had ordered companies to stop the rip-off practise.Well suprise suprise ... absolutely NOTHING has happened. Airline card charges are costing us £100 million a year in "excessive" fees simply to book flights! Budget airlines are amongst the worse offenders - as anyone who travels here to Benidorm probably knows. You see a fare advertised for £9 - but by the time all the hidden charges are added THEN the debit card fee the actual cost is probably at least doubled if not trebled from the original price - something most of us experienced at some time or another.You are not aware of the charge until the final stage of the booking process and then give in and press enter rather than trawl through the grouling procedure all over again.
|Long Ryanair queue at Alicante airport - despite the charges!|
Which? magazine estimates that consumers are paying more than £265,000 a DAY in debit card surcharges to airlines.
The only way that the Office of Fair Trading would be able to implement the ban would be to go to the High Court - and as some of the companies and airlines are not registered in the UK this would be very difficult to enforce. It actually only costs 20 pence to process a payment on a debit card. The worse budget airline company for this has to be Ryanair who charge a wooping £6 per person per journey - however, they have renamed the charge and are calling it an "administration fee" - as if that fools anyone! So thats £12 for a return flight - something that is costing the company only 40 pence to process. But Ryanair always hit back with the arguement that there is no charge for using a pre-paid card.However many customers using the Fairfx pre-paid card are still being charged as the system "did not recognise it as a pre-paid debit card" - Refund I hear you ask ... from Ryanair !!!! I'm sure the day will come when the banks that issue these prepaid cards will make it a pre-requisit that the card has to have a minimum balance on it. A friend of mine said that Lloyds Bank have been sending out letters to customers with off shore accounts informing them that they have to maintain a minimum balance of £2500 otherwise face a £20 per month "service" fee. Its only a matter of time before all banking customers will be charged for keeping their money in the bank ..... I see a return to people keeping money in tea caddys and under the matress!