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MP welcomes calls for end to rip off holiday charges

July 26, 2011 10:00 AM
By Tim Farron MP
Tim Farron

Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron has welcomed news that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is calling for debit card surcharges to be banned, following a 90-day investigation focusing on the passenger transport sector.

The OFT says that paying by debit card is the "online equivalent of cash", and should therefore not attract fees, a common practice with flight purchases through budget airlines' websites including Easyjet and Ryanair.

The OFT said that this practice was "particularly prevalent in the airline sector", with an estimated £300 million spent on payment surcharges in the UK during 2009. The charges can add as much as £32 to the cost of a family of four flying with a low-cost airline and are often only disclosed at the end of the online booking process.

The OFT refused to name and shame the worst offenders but pointed out that easyJet charged £8 per debit or credit card transaction, while Ryanair added £6 per journey and Trainline charged £3.50 for a credit card transaction.

Most airlines have used the charges as an extra source of revenue from a totally unjustifiable extra charge added when paying for a flight through standard credit and debit cards. The charges are already banned in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Portugal, and are capped in Spain and Denmark.

Tim said: "With the summer holidays about the start, families are looking at last minute deals and budgeting to try and afford a trip away. Being hit by a £32 booking fee on a £9 flight is extortion and needs to end. I welcome the OFT decision and now I want to see them end this loophole that boosts companies' profits and hurts customers."