Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More on Online Shopping Charges

I blogged previously about new EU consumer rules targeting hidden charges for the use of credit/debit cards and the predictable response from repeat offenders like Ryanair. Now the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has ordered full disclosure of these charges to aid consumers. Via the BBC:
It warned that if travel firms did not comply, it would take action against them, using consumer protection laws.

"We will take enforcement action against any businesses that do not respond to today's announcement and instead continue to use misleading surcharging practices," said Cavendish Elithorn, of the OFT.
Consumer minister Edward Davey said: "We will work with the OFT to make sure that consumers paying by card do not have to pay excessive surcharges."

He added that the government was supporting the introduction of European rules, which would stipulate that surcharges must reflect the costs to businesses. It could be up to two years before these are adopted in UK law.

Mandatory disclosure alone may not be enough to get rid of these charges if offenders act in copycat fashion and if consumers don't have much bargaining power or true choice. But it might make a small difference. For e.g., Easyjet charges GBP 8 for the use of a debit card whereas Ryanair charges GBP 6.
I wonder how long it will take for the Irish authorities to bring the new EU rules into effect.