Card Fee Rip-Off

By | Category: Travel rumblings

This was one of many headlines that have cropped up over the last few days as a result of a Which? Report about the high charges that are levied by airlines, admittedly not all, for booking flights with them. Where the heck has the media been? This story has been around for years. We wrote about it in CD-Traveller in March 2009. Which? Has written about it before so why does so much of the media wring their hands with dismay as though this only began yesterday. Personally I reported this to the Financial Standards Authority some three years ago. Nothing happened. Will anything happen this time?
The Which? article says that some charges are as low as 10p but that is not the whole truth. There is the administration. But then didn’t you have that with cheques and cash? I don’t mind a fee per transaction and whether it is £4 or £5 doesn’t bother me too much. What I object are two creeping practices. The first is the habit of some airlines to charge per person per leg so that a return journey for 4 can cost £40 being made up of 4 outward journeys at £5 each and the same on the incoming flight. This is just one transaction. The airline will only be charged once so why should we be charged multpile times? The other thing that I object to is a straight percentage levy of 2-3.5%. If this was capped at say £5, I might not object. One cruise company has just tried to charge me 2% on a £2,600 cruise which comes to £52. That I call profiteering if not downright piracy. Guess what? I paid by debit card which cost me nothing. But as the article shows, now even debit cards are being charged.
Do they really want my business? If I get charged for spending my own money to buy their services, there is just a chance that I will switch. But so many charge now that there are few opportunities to switch. Just as the utility companies have virtually forced us to abandon cheques by charging high processing fees could airlines, cruise companies and tour operators force us to abandon the credit card and only use debit cards? I sometimes have an overwhelming desire to pay in 10p coins and let them have the hassle of sorting it out. After all they don’t charge for cash. Yet.

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