Rip-off surcharge saints and sinners

Six months after a ban on excessive card payment charges came into force we reveal that while some companies have lowered their fees, some are still hitting consumers hard.

Following our successful campaign to get the Government to ban rip-off card payment surcharges, we have been monitoring how well the new rules are working. We asked consumers to tell us if they felt they had been hit with a rip-off surcharge since the ban came in to effect in April. More than seven hundred people have got in touch through our website and we’ve found that some companies are still charging excessive fees, with the worst offenders in the travel and holiday sector. Of these we’ve identified several companies that we believe could be breaking the new rules.

eDreams was the worst offender; we found examples of surcharges of more than 18% for customers paying by credit and even debit cards. We also found easyBus, Vueling, Monarch, Jet2 and Germanwings still charging over the odds with fees ranging from 2.5% to 3.5%.

The ban makes it illegal for companies to charge more than what it costs them to process the payment. Which? believes that this should be no more than 2% for credit cards and a matter of pence for debit cards.

Following complaints from consumers we also contacted First Choice, Thomson, easyJet and Mytrainticket who have all subsequently agreed to reduce their credit card fees to 2.0%. easyCar have gone even further and have now abolished all their fees for credit and debit cards.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

“It’s disappointing that six months after the Government banned rip-off surcharges, consumers are still being hit with high fees simply for paying with a card.

“While some companies have reduced their surcharges, there should be a crackdown on rogue companies who continue to flout the ban. We’ll be passing on our findings to Trading Standards and asking them to enforce the rules.”

Notes for Editors:

Over 50,000 people supported our campaign to end rip-off surcharges. We welcomed the Government ban on excessive surcharges which came into force on 6 April this year.
On the same day we committed to monitor the ban and asked consumers to tell us about any surcharges they thought were excessive at www.which.co.uk/surcharges. To date we have received over 700 reports from consumers who felt they’d been hit by an excessive surcharge. We checked to verify these claims and wrote to the companies to ask them to reduce their surcharges or present us with evidence that they reflected their costs.

Companies we contacted that have reduced their surcharges:
– First Choice (part of Tui Travel) – was 2.5% for credit cards, reduced to 2.0% on 1st October 2013

– Thomson (part of Tui Travel)- was 2.5% for credit cards reduced to 2.0% on 1st October 2013

– easyJet – was 2.5% for credit cards, reducing to 2.0% from 17th October 2013

– Mytrainticket – was 2.95% for credit cards, reduced to 2.0% in July 2013

– easyCar – had a 99p flat fee for debit cards and £2.99 flat fee for credit cards, but abolished all debit and credit card fees in September 2013

Companies we contacted that we think are still charging over the odds:
– easyBus – no charge for using a Maestro card, 50p or 2.5% (whichever is higher) for debit cards, and 50p or 3.5% (whichever is higher) for credit cards.

– eDreams – does not appear to have a consistent surcharging policy. We have found examples of over 18% surcharges for both debit and credit cards. For example, we found a return flight from London to Rome advertised as £93.21. There was no fee for paying by Visa Entropay (a prepaid virtual visa card), but £17.01 (18.25%) was added on for paying by Visa debit card, and £17.56 (18.86%) was added for paying by Visa credit card, Master Card debit card or Master Card Credit card. These surcharges were labeled as ‘service charges and payment fees’.

– Vueling – 2.7% fee for credit cards

– Monarch – 2.5% or £5 flat fee (whichever is greater) for credit cards

– Jet2 – 2.5% for credit cards

– GermanWings – £8 flat fee for credit cards

Under the regulations companies made up of 10 or less members of staff are exempt from the ban until June 2014.Following our successful campaign to get the Government to ban rip-off card payment surcharges, we have been monitoring how well the new rules are working. We asked consumers to tell us if they felt they had been hit with a rip-off surcharge since the ban came in to effect in April. More than seven hundred people have got in touch through our website and we’ve found that some companies are still charging excessive fees, with the worst offenders in the travel and holiday sector.  Of these we’ve identified several companies that we believe could be breaking the new rules.

eDreams was the worst offender; we found examples of surcharges of more than 18% for customers paying by credit and even debit cards.  We also found easyBus, Vueling, Monarch, Jet2 and Germanwings still charging over the odds with fees ranging from 2.5% to 3.5%.

The ban makes it illegal for companies to charge more than what it costs them to process the payment.  Which? believes that this should be no more than 2% for credit cards and a matter of pence for debit cards.

Following complaints from consumers we also contacted First Choice, Thomson, easyJet and Mytrainticket who have all subsequently agreed to reduce their credit card fees to 2.0%.  easyCar have gone even further and have now abolished all their fees for credit and debit cards.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

“It’s disappointing that six months after the Government banned rip-off surcharges, consumers are still being hit with high fees simply for paying with a card.

“While some companies have reduced their surcharges, there should be a crackdown on rogue companies who continue to flout the ban.  We’ll be passing on our findings to Trading Standards and asking them to enforce the rules.”

 

Notes for Editors:

  1. Over 50,000 people supported our campaign to end rip-off surcharges. We welcomed the

Government ban on excessive surcharges which came into force on 6 April this year.

  1. On the same day we committed to monitor the ban and asked consumers to tell us about any

surcharges they thought were excessive at www.which.co.uk/surcharges.  To date we have received over 700 reports from consumers who felt they’d been hit by an excessive surcharge. We checked to verify these claims and wrote to the companies to ask them to reduce their surcharges or present us with evidence that they reflected their costs.

  1. Companies we contacted that have reduced their surcharges:

–       First Choice (part of Tui Travel) – was 2.5% for credit cards, reduced to 2.0% on 1st October 2013

–       Thomson (part of Tui Travel)- was 2.5% for credit cards reduced to 2.0% on 1st October 2013.

–       easyJet – was 2.5% for credit cards, reducing to 2.0% from 17th October 2013

–       Mytrainticket – was 2.95% for credit cards, reduced to 2.0% in July 2013

–       easyCar – had a 99p flat fee for debit cards and £2.99 flat fee for credit cards, but abolished all debit and credit card fees in September 2013

  1. Companies we contacted that we think are still charging over the odds:

–       easyBus – no charge for using a Maestro card, 50p or 2.5% (whichever is higher) for debit cards, and 50p or 3.5% (whichever is higher) for credit cards.

–       eDreams – does not appear to have a consistent surcharging policy. We have found examples of over 18% surcharges for both debit and credit cards. For example, we found a return flight from London to Rome advertised as £93.21. There was no fee for paying by Visa Entropay (a prepaid virtual visa card), but £17.01 (18.25%) was added on for paying by Visa debit card, and £17.56 (18.86%) was added for paying by Visa credit card, Master Card debit card or Master Card Credit card. These surcharges were labeled as ‘service charges and payment fees’.

–       Vueling – 2.7% fee for credit cards

–       Monarch – 2.5% or £5 flat fee (whichever is greater) for credit cards

–       Jet2 – 2.5% for credit cards

–       GermanWings – £8 flat fee for credit cards

  1. Under the regulations companies made up of 10 or less members of staff are exempt from the ban until June 2014.

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