Travel Sector Credit and Debit Card Charges
The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading has considered the recently issued conclusions of the UK Office of Fair Trading into its investigation into the charges made by travel sector retailers to consumers using credit and debit cards to buy travel.
The UK OFT concluded that improvements should be made to allow consumers to see clearly what charges companies would make for payments by credit and debit cards. It has stated that consumers should be made aware of these charges earlier in the booking system by making ‘one click’ at anytime in the online booking process rather than as present when the applicable fees are only shown when the booking is nearly completed. Similarly the UK OFT believes that for those consumers booking by telephone, the travel companies should state what payment charges are applicable early in the booking conversation.
It has also said that no separate charge should be made for the use of debit cards and is asking the UK Government to consider changing the law to prevent companies making a charge for the use of debit cards.
The UK OFT has stated that it believes that traders should still be able to make additional charges for the use of credit cards for payment provided they comply with the recommended minimum transparency requirements the UK OFT have set out.
However, whilst the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading supports the findings of the UK OFT it should be noted that at this stage these are conclusions rather than legally binding requirements. It is hoped that the vast majority of travel retailers will heed what the UK OFT has said about transparency and the removal of fees charged for using debit cards.
Chairman of the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading Bill Henderson MHK said “These conclusions are very hopeful. Most consumers buying travel find themselves frustrated by the way in which the travel companies slip additional charges in at the end of the booking process. This Office will monitor whether the UK Airlines operating in the Island heed what has been concluded and we will notify the UK OFT if they do not. I am pleased to confirm that Manx2 and the Isle of Man Steam Packet do not currently impose any payment charge for using a debit card. However the Office will contact both companies to make them aware of what the UK OFT has said in relation to price transparency”.