£265,000 daily cost of flights surcharges

Holidaymakers are paying more than £265,000 per day in debit card surcharges to airlines, despite a Government ruling that they should be banned, the consumer champion Which? has warned.

The pressure group submitted a “super-complaint” – backed by thousands of supporters – to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in March, asking the regulator to investigate excessive credit and debit card surcharges.

On June 28, the OFT proposed that charges for paying by debit card should be banned.

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A simple amendment to existing payment services regulations by the Treasury would achieve this.

But Which? increased pressure on the Government yesterday, saying it had still not taken action and consumers continued to be hit by excessive card fees.

“Unbelievably”, Which? said, two airlines, Swiss and Lufthansa, have announced plans to start charging customers £4.50 for using debit and credit cards since the OFT response.

Since June 28, consumers have collectively paid an estimated £18m in airline debit card surcharges.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “With most airlines yet to drop these card surcharges and some introducing new fees, it’s time for the Government to put a stop to this.

“A minor change to the law is all it would take to ban the charges on debit cards that you only find out about at the end of a lengthy online booking process.

“Thousands of people have complained to Which? that these hidden card fees are unfair. The Government must act so that consumers can easily compare the cost of their flights.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Government is committed to working with the OFT to stop retailers, including airlines, imposing hidden surcharges on customers who pay by card.

“We are considering the OFT’s recommendations and will respond in due course.”

Retailers are not supposed to hide away information on surcharges.