Card charges continue

Just weeks after the Office of Fair Trading announced that it was backing a 'super complaint' made consumer organisation Which?, two airlines – Lufthansa and Swiss – have decided to turn a blind eye and actually START charging customers additional fees for using debit and credit cards.

From early November Lufthansa and Swiss will levy a £4.50 charge on all bookings paid by card, when a month ago the OFT, in responding to Which?, stated that the surcharges were misleading and detrimental to consumers.

Executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said: 'It's unbelievable that two airlines have introduced these card fees just weeks after the OFT agreed with us that they are unfair and misleading.

'Just one simple change to the Payment Services Directive would put an end to debit card surcharges for good. The Treasury must act quickly to do this before other airlines and businesses jump on the bandwagon and start charging these excessive fees.'

It's a practice used to a fine art by budget airlines, but now it seems their more upmarket competitors are getting involved too. Lufthansa said this to the Travelmole website: 'The costs we receive from credit card bookings are considerable, so we have to pass on a certain amount to those booking. It does also apply to debit card bookings because our system cannot distinguish between the cards in the UK.'

The European Commission, it emerged, has started an inquiry into 'add-on' fees by airlines, allowing them to advertise low prices that bear little relation to what consumers eventually pay out.

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