Which? has today announced plans to launch a super-complaint against the surcharges that many retailers impose when customers pay with a debit or credit card.
The consumer champion will use its powers* to force the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate card surcharges, which are often sprung on the customer at the point of payment and can be far in excess of what it costs the retailer to process the transaction**.
Low-cost airlines are among the worst offenders, with some charging a fee per passenger, per leg of the journey, in spite of the fact that they only have to process one transaction.
For example, a family of four booking a return flight with Ryanair would be charged £40 to pay by card when the cost to the airline would be around 20 pence to process a debit card payment and no more than 2% of the transaction value for a credit card. The same family would be charged £38 by Flybe and £5.50 by Easyjet for paying for return flights by card.
Which? also has found that local authorities, estate agents, cinemas and even the DVLA*** are now beginning to levy excessive charges for paying by card.
The super-complaint is Which?’s first since 2007 and kicks off the consumer champion’s new campaign against rip-off charges, which consumers can support by signing its online petition at www.which.co.uk/ripoff. The petition will be submitted along with the super-complaint to the OFT on Monday 7 March.
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says:
“There’s simply no justification for excessive card charges - paying by card should cost the consumer the same amount that it costs the retailer. Companies shouldn’t be using card processing costs as an excuse for boosting their profits.”
“Low-cost airlines are some of the worst offenders when it comes to excessive card surcharges but this murky practice is becoming ever more widespread, from cinemas to hotels and even some local authorities.”