Cineworld - first cinema to remove booking feesStep in the right direction for surcharge super complaint

16 March 2012

Cinema - popcorn and movie

Which? welcomes Cineworld removing all fees for online bookings

Which? welcomes Cineworld's move to remove all fees for online bookings. The company is the first in the UK to implement the change.

Research commissioned by Cineworld showed over three quarters of cinemagoers were more likely to book online if there were no booking fees.

Which? has long been campaigning for companies to put an end to hidden and disproportionate surcharges.

Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'We're pleased that Cineworld is leading the way and hope that other companies follow their lead.'

Cineworld is also introducing a 10% discount for tickets bought online.

Surcharge super complaint

Which? submitted a super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in March 2011, asking the regulator to investigate hidden and excessive credit and debit card surcharges.

In June 2011, the OFT upheld our surcharges super complaint, agreeing that they cause a significant problem to consumers.

Transparent payment charges

The OFT recommended that businesses make payment charges transparent by including the cost of debit card payments in the headline price.

It also committed to taking enforcement action against companies that persisted in hiding the price of paying by card.

Government bans excessive surcharges

In December 2011 Which? secured commitment from the government to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges.

The government committed to doing this by bringing forward implementation of Article 19 of the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD). The Directive is due to be implemented EU-wide by June 2014, but the UK government agreed to implement the changes by December 2012.

Drop in the ocean

Referring to the Cineworld announcement, Richard Lloyd added: 'This is just a drop in the ocean. 50,000 people supported our campaign to see these 'rip-off' charges stamped out so government must stick to its commitment and ensure the ban happens by December 2012.'

The CRD will prevent businesses levying excessive fees for paying card by limiting charges to the 'borne cost' incurred by the retailer. The consumer will only be charged what it costs the business to process the payment.

The government committed to this coming into force by the end of 2012 and is due to launch a consultation on this by Easter. Which? will be engaging thoroughly in this consultation.

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