The travel industry has been urged to act swiftly in response to the Office of Fair Trading seeking to ban debit card surcharges.
The call came from travelsupermarket.com travel expert Bob Atkinson, who also voiced concern about the lack of clarity from the OFT about credit card charge regulations and enforcement.
He said: “We welcome the announcement that the OFT intends to enforce consumer protection regulations to prevent travel companies from adding charges to debit card purchases on flights, holidays and other travel related products.
“Whilst there are some charges associated with taking payments by debit card to travel providers, there is no excuse for the high costs consumers currently face.”
He added: “Travel companies have clearly been seizing an opportunity to cash in and we will hopefully see an end to this practice, something recently embraced by Monarch Airlines with its dropping of debit card charges.
“We now call on the travel industry as a whole to respond in a timely manner to these findings. We are also pleased that the OFT found that credit card charges should be more transparent to customers, enabling them to make informed decisions when buying their travel.”
But he said that charges imposed need to be “reasonable” and on a percentage basis as opposed to a per person charge.
“We have not yet seen anything around this issue in the information supplied so far by the OFT and the lack of clarity on the credit card issue is very disappointing,” Atkinson added. "In addition, the government should now take action to stop these unfair practices once and for all through legislation.”
Meanwhile, Monarch Airlines said it pre-empted the Office of Fair Trading’s ruling on debit card surcharges for online sales.
The carrier abolished debit card fees earlier this month in a move it described providing the best service for consumers. Monarch chief executive Conrad Clifford said: “We welcome the ruling from the OFT on the abolition of debit card fees.
”There is no justification for charging excessive fees on credit and debit cards. We had already taken the decision to cancel debit card fees some time ago following an intensive six month review.
“Our customers expect an up front and transparent pricing structure from their airline and it’s good to see that in light of this important decision, other airlines will now have to follow our lead. Let us hope they do so without any handwringing or prevarication.”
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