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‘Scrap excessive debit and credit card surcharges’ - Bowles

February 11, 2011 3:00 PM

Lib Dem Euro MP for South East England, Sharon Bowles MEP, who chairs the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, is backing a 'super-complaint' by consumer watchdog Which? calling for excessive debit and credit card surcharges to be scrapped.

Surcharges, sometimes called 'handling fees', 'booking charges', or 'administration fees', are frequently incurred by consumers when making payments with debit or credit cards online. This additional cost can vary and is often not made clear until the end of the purchase, creating a disparity between the price advertised and the price paid.

According to the Which? super-complaint some retailers, including certain budget airlines, are profiting from surcharges. Research shows that the actual cost to budget airlines for a debit card transaction is between 10p and 20p and between 1% and 2% of the value of the ticket for a credit card transaction but, in the case of Ryanair for example, a family of four would incur a £40 surcharge for return flights. In some cases surcharges are incurred for each leg of a journey.

Sharon Bowles MEP said:

"Understandably, retailers being charged a fee by banks to process debit and credit card transactions want to pass that cost on to the card-using consumer. However, it is wrong for retailers such as Ryanair to profit by charging consumers more, by way of a surcharge, than the original cost of the transaction.

"These days a lot of people do their shopping online. That includes those who are unable, because of disability or infirmity, to leave their homes to shop. It is unfair for those that have no alternative but to shop online to have to pay extra for the privilege.

"Therefore I will be pledging my support for the Which? campaign against excessive surcharges."

NOTE: Those wishing to pledge their support for the Which? campaign can do so here: