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Sunday 23 July 2017

Ryanair: plan to end credit card fees won't alter prices

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

NO-FRILLS airline Ryanair claims it won't be affected by a planned crackdown on exorbitant credit and debit card fees -- saying it "doesn't charge" for use of these cards.





The British government announced plans yesterday to ban excessive surcharges for transactions made with these cards and the Irish Government said it was already moving ahead with similar plans.

A spokesman for Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said a similar move had been announced two months ago and a public consultation would be held early next year to get the views of consumers and industry on how a ban could work.

"Ireland is likely to be in the first bunch of countries across Europe that implements this ban, as the timetable is to have it in place by next Christmas," the spokesman said.

Given that Ireland and the UK have similar legal systems, they could certainly borrow from each other if either jurisdiction came up with a working mechanism to stamp out the excessive fees.

TRANSPARENCY

"We are determined to do everything possible to protect the consumer, to ensure transparency and to implement the relevant EU rules," he said.

The EU requires all countries to bring in measures to limit payment surcharges to the actual costs by mid-2014.

The UK government said it wanted to limit charges to the actual costs involved in processing payments, which is typically around 20p (24c) for each transaction.

However, Ryanair appears determined to resist any change arguing that its ¿6 each way administration charge reflects the cost of its booking system, including websites in numerous languages and security features.

"We don't have any debit or credit card charges so this will not apply to us," said spokesman Stephen McNamara.

While the airline waives this charge for customers using another payment method -- Mastercard prepaid -- that was because it had a partnership agreement with Mastercard and wanted to encourage use of such cards.

The Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI) said it feared that, regardless of the planned ban, customers would end up paying the same.

"If you close off one avenue to them, airlines and concert ticket providers and anyone else with these charges will end up calling them something else or putting the costs on elsewhere, you could put money on it," said CAI chief executive Dermott Jewell.

The move was welcome if the Government forced more transparency on providers but the net result would not be any reduction in costs to customers, he said.

An Aer Lingus spokesman said it was still considering the matter of how a ban would affect its charges.

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