Complaints have been levelled at airlines and booking agencies, but also organisations like local councils, for imposing excessive card charges. Whilst the Government will be limiting what card charges can be imposed, companies will still be allowed to add a “small charge” to cover the cost of processing payments.
Buying flights online is notoriously confusing, with additional charges seemingly being added at every stage. When customers tick a box to confirm they will pay using a card (how else would you pay?!), extra charges are often added. Sometimes these charges aren’t made visible until as many as 8 pages have been clicked through.
Other organisations guilty of excessive card charges include local authorities and the DVLA, whilst buying train, ferry, theatre and cinema tickets online can also be something of a headache.
Consumer magazine Which? urged the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate the problem, and, in June, the regulator published a report on the travel industry’s use of surcharges.
The OFT said the industry needs to make the charges clearer, and stop levying surcharges for debit cards. The Government is planning to go beyond the OFT’s recommendations, banning all surcharges it deems to be “excessive”.
A consultation will be launched at the start of 2012.