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Statistics have shown that approximately £300m was spent by airline passengers solely on debit card surcharges in 2010. As a result pressure is now being put on the government by the consumers’ association Which? to make an alteration to present legislation which will result in the outlawing of debit card surcharges when booking holidays online.

In June, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommended that the law be adjusted to eliminate these charges. The government has acknowledged the proposal and has said it is working on how best to respond.

As discussions by the government over whether to consent to the requests are coming to a close, Which? has put further pressure on them by suggesting that they amend the Payment Services Regulations by the Treasury specifically as this will ban the debit card surcharges.

Richard Lloyd from Which? pointed out that many airlines still add on surcharges and a few are increasing or adding to their fees. He argued that a small change in current legislation will ban airlines from doing this and save many holidaymakers from incurring extra fees that they are not made aware of until towards the end of a long online booking process.

Three months ago, the OFT demanded that all travel companies made any surcharges a lot clearer to customers from the very beginning of the booking process.

Although talks over the abolition of debit card surcharges are already underway, both the Lufthansa and Swiss airlines are making plans to charge £4.50 for every card payment starting from 2 November. To add to this, some airlines are already charging considerably more than this for debit card payments alone. It was found by the OFT that Easyjet were charging £8 per debit card payment booking and £8 plis 2.5% of the overall cost of the transaction for those customers purchasing with a credit card.

A spokesperson for the Treasury has described the strong commitment the government has towards the prevention of hidden surcharges imposed by all retailers, including airlines on customers who pay on their card. It was promised that the suggestions from the OFT were being considered and a response will be ready shortly.

About The Author

Lee Murphy

MAAT and ICPA accountant, with a passion for making accountancy and bookkeeping accessible. Other interests include cloud-based software development for web and mobile access, keeping fit, reading, and entrepreneurship.

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