Smart Consumer: 'My two-month nightmare getting Ryanair's Cash Card'
If a business is selling something usually they make it pretty easy to buy it. It's trying to return something that can be the tricky part.
But if John Fahey knew what was ahead of him when he tried to buy the Ryanair Cash Passport, he says: "I'm not sure if I would go through it again."
John and his children fly regularly, so when on March 1 Ryanair introduced the Ryanair Cash Passport as the only payment method that would not attract their administration fee of €6 each way, John set out to get one.
"The saga commenced on March 2," says John. "I finally got my card on April 17."
It started when he logged on and completed a detailed application process for the Ryanair liveried Mastercard pre-paid debit card. But after he hit the 'submit' button he received a message that they were unable to process his registration.
He emailed the card-issuing company (Access Prepaid Worldwide Ltd) who told him there was a problem with his browser. In all he tried with four different browsers, but to no avail.
Advised to order manually, he then downloaded forms, printed them, filled them out, scanned and sent back only to be told there was in fact no manual process in place for Irish residents.
Now early April, he decided to try online again but once more it didn't work. But he was told that manual application was now available in Ireland so tried that again.
A few days later he got a message saying that his order had been successful.
But when he tried to load cash to the card online his bank wouldn't let him so off he headed to his local branch to transfer funds that way.
His card arrived on April 17, but the saga wasn't over yet. He still needed to activate the card, set up an online account and lodge funds to it.
Registering the card wasn't a problem but an apostrophe in his mother's maiden name meant that set-up of the account failed, as it was being read as an error.
Reloading cash online didn't work either and when he tried to transfer from his online bank account instead he couldn't as the account for his new debit card was UK based. So he had to provide all the details to enable him to set up an 'international payee', and then wait a few days before he could transfer funds and actually use the card.
You have to admire John's patience and perseverance. It took him almost two months to do what should have taken minutes. For example, it took his daughter in the UK two days to get the card.
Meanwhile, he had to fork out €60 on admin fees for Ryanair flights to Spain.
When this card was launched in Ireland only certain internet browsers were usable and incredibly for the first few weeks non-Irish passport holders could not use the online process as you had to provide Irish passport details. With no manual process for Irish residents at that stage, they were excluded from buying the card.
John lost a lot of time and €60 in fees. And you can't help wondering how many more had to pay fees they could have avoided were the process more user-friendly.
Access Prepaid Worldwide, who administer the card, say: "We are obliged to adhere to anti-money-laundering regulations across all our online channels for applications and reloads.
"In some cases these processes may prevent a cardholder from completing their application or reload."
Asked if they are happy that delivery of the card to Irish customers will be pain-free from now on, they responded: "The Ryanair Cash Passport continues to sell successfully in Ireland. The introduction of the new manual application process is proving popular for those passengers not able to apply online."
They add: "We'd like to reassure anyone applying for a Ryanair Cash Passport that we dispatch cards as fast as we can."
Ryanair say: "MasterCard have assured us that they will make the reloading methods clearer and asked us to sincerely apologise to Mr Fahey for the inconvenience he suffered in this case, which they assure us will not be repeated."