Anger as Ryanair finally scrap unlawful 6 debit card fee… and introduce a blanket 6 'website admin fee' PLUS 2% credit card charge on the same day
Ryanair will bring in a new 2 per cent credit card processing fee tomorrowNo-frills airline will also introduce an across the board 6 admin fee to cover 'website costs'In July company was told by Office of Fair Trading it could not charge a fee to debit card customersFlight bosses blame the new charges on the OFT – a claim the watchdog denies
18:35 GMT, 29 November 2012
Budget airline Ryanair has imposed a new blanket 6 a head ‘website administration fee’ on its customers – plus a 2 per cent booking fee on those who pay by credit card.
Customers who pay by credit card face the double-whammy of having to pay BOTH charges, the no-frills airline confirmed.
But Ryanair flew into a major row by claiming that the moves had been forced on it by UK competition watchdogs at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) – a charge which they vociferously denied.
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, will impose a new 2 per cent credit card processing fee on all new bookings made from Friday (file picture)
The OFT criticised Ryanair for 'springing' on extra charges. Pictured, Ryanair fees before the fee change
Until now, passengers booking Ryanair tickets with either a credit card OR a debit card faced a 6 ‘admin fee’ unless they paid with the airline’s special pre-paid ‘Ryanair Cash Passport’.
But the OFT ruled in July that this was unfair and that debit card customers should not pay an admin fee unless it is shown in the headline price. There should be no extra charge for paying debit card.
So in retaliation, Ryanair says everyone will now pay the 6 admin fee – and credit card customers will in addition pay a new 2% booking charge.
And it sought to blame the OFT for the added costs.
It means a family booking by credit card faces its costs soar.
The row erupted when the Irish no-frills carrier announced it was bringing in a new 2 per cent credit card processing fee on all new credit card bookings made from Friday.
It also announced that from Friday its passengers would also have to pay a 6 administration fee to cover the airline's ‘website costs’.
The airline claimed it was making the announcement ’in order to comply with the UK Office of Fair Trading's recent ruling on credit card fees’.
Ryanair said later it was ‘disappointed, but not surprised’ by the OFT’s ‘attempt to distance themselves from their anti-consumer rulings.’
It then cheekily ‘invited the OFT to pay these increases on the passengers’ behalf.’
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: ’Ryanair is disappointed, but not surprised, by the OFT’s attempt to distance themselves from their anti-consumer rulings.
'Before the OFT imposed these baseless changes, airlines could partner with card providers to allow their cardholders the exclusive advantage of avoiding such fees.
‘As the OFT has removed our ability to help passengers avoid fees through exclusive partnerships perhaps they may wish to pay these fees on the consumers’ behalf.’
But a furious Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a strong denial saying this was absolutely not the case and that the extra charge was totally unnecessary.
However, the move came as Ryanair WAS forced by the competition watchdogs to scrap unfair charges on debit cards and to remove a lack of transparency in the booking process which saw unfair charges ‘sprung’ on passengers at the last minute.
But the OFT insisted: ‘We have not required any airline to introduce new payment charges, increase their credit card charges or scrap any discounts they wish to offer.’
The OFT added: ‘We took action to make sure that debit card charges are included in the headline price and credit card charges are transparent and not sprung on shoppers towards the end of the booking process.’
Ryanair will also introduce an across the board 6 administration fee (file picture)
Those using Ryanair's ‘cash passport’ scheme in Ireland, Germany and Spain will be able to avoid administration fees until February 1, February 15 and March 21 2013 respectively.
In July the OFT told 12 airlines, including Ryanair that they could not charge a fee to customers paying with debit cards, which were considered the same as cash.
At the time Ryanair charged a 6 card fee per person per booking, it said.
Nor could they allow only their own debit cards to be used.
Ryanair defended its actions and said it was continuing to ‘deliver the lowest fares and a no-fuel surcharges guarantee to all our passengers', and that ‘passengers could avoid credit card fees by paying with a debit card.’
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara, said: ‘To cover our credit card processing costs and to comply with the UK OFT’s recent ruling, we are introducing a 2% credit card handling fee from 30 November 2012.‘
He said Ryanair’s ‘avoidable’ 2% credit card fee can be avoided by using debit cards (including Ryanair Cash Passport cards) or German ELV transfer.
A Ryanair statement noted: ’In addition, Ryanair’s €6/6 admin fee (which covers costs associated with Ryanair’s website, www.ryanair.com) will apply to all new bookings made from 30 November, except those bookings made using a Ryanair Cash Passport in Ireland, Germany and Spain, where admin fees can be avoided until 1 February, 15 February and 21 March 2013, respectively. ‘
To rub in the message, Ryanair insisted: ‘This will bring all of Ryanair’s European operations in line with its UK procedures, following the OFT’s ruling.'
Ryanair and its outspoken chief executive Michael O’Leary has already come under fire from consumer groups and aviation watchdogs for luring customers in with low fares then charging sky-high fees for ‘the extras’ – and has even threatened to charge for use of the toilets.
Mr O’Leary admitted to Management Today magazine: 'Of course I fly Ryanair, but it costs me a fortune in excess baggage.’
In July this year Ryanair and 11 other airline companies were told they could not charge a fee to customer paying by debit card (file picture)
But the opinionated airline chief has no sympathy for other passengers who fall foul of his tightly drawn rules.
Recalling the recent case of passenger and mother-of-two Suzy McLeod, who received backing from nearly half a million Facebook users when she was forced to pay 236 to print boarding passes for her family so they could fly home to Britain from Alicante, Spain.
Mr O’Leary told ‘Management Today: ‘Recently a customer turned up at Alicante with no boarding passes for her family.
'She was fined €60 for each reissue. So she gets on 'the Twitter' to complain.
'Emboldened by the rising tide of support, Mrs McLeod asks for compensation, to which we replied politely but firmly, thank you, Mrs McLeod, but it was your fuck-up. We're not changing our policy.’
The mother-of-two, from Newbury, Berkshire had criticised Ryanair’s rule that travellers must print boarding passes up to two weeks before flying, or face a 60 per ticket charge at the airport.
At the time of the boarding card row Mr O’Leary launched an astonishing rant against his own customers – branding those who don’t like paying for their boarding cards as 'idiots' who should ‘b***** off’.
Passengers who arrive for flights without a boarding pass are ‘stupid’ and should pay a penalty to have one printed at the check-in desk because it is their ‘f*** up’.
On its website the airline carries a table of what it terms ‘optional’ fees and another saying ‘click here to see how to avoid paying optional fees.’