The end to paying for paying

30 June 2011

Finally some good news this week as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) came out in support of consumers and agreed to stop travel companies charging us for using a debit card to pay for something.

‘Paying for paying’ is a ridiculous system that these companies have gotten away with for too long.

This cost is normally added on right at the very end when you’re paying for something and the OFT says this makes it hard for consumers to be able to accurately compare different travel companies.

Charges on debit cards will now be abolished, and surcharges on credit cards will have to be made clearer on company’s websites.

This is great news for customers. Why should we have to pay an extra £5 just to use our debit card? It doesn’t cost the company anywhere near this amount to process the payment. This money is almost like us paying for the privilege of using a certain company and giving its employees a bonus.

Recently I booked a flight to Berlin with (you guessed it) Ryanair. Despite my hatred of the company it does still have pretty cheap flights - but going through the booking process did bring me out in quite a rage. For a company that offers such cheap flights why don’t it just advertise the final price from the offset? It makes me really angry how it sneaks in all the extra ‘administration’ fees along the way?

Sadly, despite the OFT announcement, the budget airline provider won’t be changing its ways any time soon either. It said it doesn’t currently charge a surcharge for card fees and the fees for using a card fall under the bracket of ‘administration’.

The OFT changes are on the back of a super complaint by consumer association Which? back in February. At the time, Stephen McNamara from Ryanair came out with a scathing attack towards the consumer group calling it “useless and irrelevant”.

He said: “Before making ‘Super Duper Complaints’ the clueless clowns at ‘Which, Who or What’ magazine, should conduct some basic research. Ryanair does not levy any credit or debit card payment ‘surcharges’.”

So for now Ryanair will continue charging its fees but those companies that do charge an extra surcharge for using a card will have to change their ways. This is a great achievement for consumers but the OFT should now push for any fees to be abolished when paying for a card – whatever they are classed as.