Swiss and Lufthansa to charge for paying by cardWhich? calls for urgent government action

08 August 2011

airline charges incontent

Swiss and Lufthansa have added their names to the list of airlines who charge consumers to make credit or debit card transactions

Just weeks after the Office of Fair Trading agreed with the Which? surcharge super complaint, Swiss and Lufthansa have announced they are to charge customers £4.50 for using credit cards from 2 November 2011.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, 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.'

Excessive card fees

On 30 March 2011, Which? issued a super complaint to the OFT, asking it to investigate the practice of excessive card fees. 43,000 consumers backed our super complaint by signing our online pledge.

A further 2,400 consumers challenged consumer affairs minister Ed Davey to help change the law across Europe by getting support from his European counterparts to pass a proposed ban in the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD).

Consumer victory

Our joint lobbying was successful – on 23 June 2011 an amendment to the CRD was accepted. The Directive will limit the price companies can charge for paying by card and must be implemented across Europe.

However, the CRD can only limit, not ban, surcharges and will take two years to be implemented into UK law. Which? is now concerned that two years is too late and other airlines and companies will impose their surcharges in this period before the change is made.

Two years, too late

In response, Which? has found a quicker solution. Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, explains: 'Just one simple change to the Payment Services Directive would put an end to debit card surcharges for good.'

He added: 'The Treasury must act quickly to do this before other airlines and businesses jump on the bandwagon and start charging these excessive fees.'

Watch this space

As consumers' support was so instrumental in convincing the OFT that excessive surcharges were affecting our lives, we'll be calling on you in due course to help us convince financial secretary Mark Hoban to bring about this change.

If you'd like to get involved in the campaign, subscribe to our monthly campaign email, follow Which? Action on Twitter or become our friend on facebook to find out how you might be able to help in the upcoming weeks.