Minister writes to Which? following super complaint Letter in response to 1,700 emails from consumers

11 April 2011


Consumer Affairs Minister Ed Davey MP has sent Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith a letter in support of the surcharge super complaint following emails from consumers.

The letter from Ed Davey MP in principle supports the Which? super complaint but raises some issues over the technicalities of making excessive surcharges illegal across Europe. Despite the technicalities of the text, Which? hopes Ed Davey MP will keep consumers at the heart of discussions on the Consumer Rights Directive. 

Ed Davey MP said:

'The Government shares your concern about the level of charges that are applied by some businesses when consumers pay by debit or credit card. We are committed to taking measures to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges.'

Surcharge super complaint

On 30 March 2011 we submitted the surcharge super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading to ask for fair, transparent and proportionate surcharges when paying by card.

Alongside this, a piece of legislation known as the Consumer Rights Directive, has been debated by Members of the European Parliament and is now with European Ministers. Ed Davey MP represents the UK in these discussions and has been lobbied by UK consumers to support a proposed ban in the Directive which could put an end to unfair surcharges.

Ed Davey has received over 1,700 emails from consumers asking him to encourage his European counterparts to accept the proposals. Many consumers have taken the time to customise their email, adding personal examples of 'rip off' surcharges.

Consumer Rights Directive

Although Ed Davey MP queries the location of the amendment in the Directive text, he remains supportive of the idea in principle. He has even suggested that if the European Parliament don't take this action to curb unfair card surcharges, the UK government may step in:

'Adoption of the amendment will require support from the majority of EU Governments. If the amendment to the Directive is not accepted, I assure you that the Government would consider the case for bringing forward proposals for UK law on payment surcharges as part of the process for a future consumer law reform and any such action would be informed by the outcome of Which?'s super complaint.' Read the letter in full.

Alongside the super complaint, we were able to submit a dossier of examples of surcharges from across industries – from airlines to utility companies – to explain the breadth of the issue.

Help stop excessive surcharges

  • Pledge support for the Which? super complaint.
  • Share your experiences of 'rip off' surcharges on Which? Conversation.