back to article New rules to end cries of 'WTF... a £10 online booking fee?'

The government has issued guidance that sets out the kind of costs businesses incur that they are legitimately able to claim back through payment surcharging. Under the Consumer Protection (Payment Surcharges) Regulations, which took effect on 6 April, businesses are prohibited from charging consumers excessive fees for using a …

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WTF?

so...

When I go to my local gig-hut, buy two tickets over the counter, on the night of the event as I'm going in, and with cash, my "£2.50 booking fee" is illegal then?

It's an argument I've had with them a few times, does this help out at all - or only for online matters?

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Re: so...

This annoys me when I book cinema tickets and I get charged a "booking fee". They are getting the money up-front for crying out loud.

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Re: so...

Can't see how they'll be able to justify a surcharge per person, per direction when the payment is all on one card (i.e. 8 charges for a return trip for a family of 4).

But I'm sure they'll try!

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Re: so...

Last gig I went to charged a couple of quid "postage" to email me the tickets..

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Facepalm

Re: so...

They all do it and on any price ticket too. I go to some less than wonderful little dives in London, the tickets are sometimes as cheap as £4/head but you buy online and they instantly slap a £1.50/head booking charge and £2.50 to post. I've even been charged a "postage" fee on an eMail only, PDF ticket FFS!

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Re: so...

Booking and administration fees are not included in this legislation as long as they are not dependant on a particular means of payment (i.e. A set booking fee is allowed but a booking fee only payable if you use a credit card is not).

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Happy

Re: so...

I have heard that if there us no way of buying the goods at the advertized price (ie without booking fee), then they are false advertizing. Try reporting them to trading standards. Arguing with the jobsworth minimum wage monkey behind the desk is never going to work.

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Anonymous Coward

So are SleazyJet and Ryanair going to fall foul of this?

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Anonymous Coward

No chance

There be some new fee added on, Seat Valeting charge maybe, or an entrance fee at the plane door. They'll find someway to charge the same and stay in the rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't Forget A £1 a piss

And £2 for a poo

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Bronze badge

EasyJet maybe, Ryanair aren't a UK company.

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Facepalm

Both will...

... They do business in this country. Ryanair also has some ops here, which does put them under the new rules.

Easyjet already lists an admin fee, which is the credit/debitcard fee + other bits.

I suspect it's more the ticket vendors (like Ticketmaster/LiveNation and the secondary resellers) that are being targeted. I'm glad to see that though... like others, I'm fed up being charged fees that have nothing to do with my getting a service.

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Meh

RyanAir

I fly a lot and RyanAir are normally quite high on my hate-list, but recently they've got better and the up-front price was actually the same one I paid with my debit card. Credit card marginal fee was something like a couple of quid.

Clearly they're just moving the numbers around, but if the up-front price is correct then I can live with that.

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EU law

IIRC. this is an EU directive, but has been implemented ~1year early in the UK, as a result of certain company (who shall remain nameless) taking the piss.

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Stop

Re: RyanAir

"Clearly they're just moving the numbers around, but if the up-front price is correct then I can live with that."

Yeah I'm pretty sure that instead of charging wildly excessive prices if you use a credit or debit card, they now simply call it some "admin fee" or something else now, so EVERYONE pays.

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Trollface

No, because it's vague enough to let them carry on scamming you.

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@Test Man Re: RyanAir

"Yeah I'm pretty sure that instead of charging wildly excessive prices if you use a credit or debit card, they now simply call it some "admin fee" or something else now, so EVERYONE pays."

That was my point. Instead of being 'pretty sure', I'm certain from the last two times I booked with them that the price they quoted me up front was the same as the one I ended up paying with my debit card (I tried changing it to credit card out of interest to see how much it increased by, and it was a couple of quid).

Of course they're going to continue charging the same overall amount, but no admin fees were added on at the last minute like before - they were incorporated into the base price as they should be. Makes it easier to compare them through SkyScanner et al.

I feel I need to re-add that I'm far from being their biggest fan; just making sure things are accurate. They now quote prices in the same manner as EasyJet, Monarch, etc.

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But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

At least as far as business transactions are involved:

If you pay by credit card, they pay a credit card fee.

If you pay by cheque they (almost certainly) pay a cheque processing fee - and have to fill out payin slips etc. which takes time.

If you pay by cash, they have to sort the cash, take it down to the bank, stand in line and (quite possibly) have to pay a fee for depositing it

If you pay by debit card, they pay a small fee.

If you barter for a dozen eggs they have to cook the eggs.

They can't charge extra for cash payments, so why can they charge extra for debit card payments? Simple answer, if someone starts getting stroppy and demanding extra fees then pay in £1 coins!

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Re: But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

When I used to own a retail outlet, I was charged by the bank 3% for credit card transactions, 25 pence for debit card transactions and 50p for cheques. What these new rules are saying is that the fees can be passed on to the customer, but they can't exceed the charges they pay. So the £5 debit card fee that I've been seeing recently when booking hotels is now illegal, but they could charge me 25p.

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Re: But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

"If you pay by credit card, they pay a credit card fee." - which may vary depending on whether it's a consumer card or a corporate card, and depending on card brand may not be accepted at all. Charge cards like Amex are a different breed, too ...

"If you pay by cheque they (almost certainly) pay a cheque processing fee - and have to fill out payin slips etc. which takes time." so take the 30s it takes to fill out a paying in slip multiply it by checkout staff wage, add the processing fee and you have the cost

"If you pay by cash, they have to sort the cash, take it down to the bank, stand in line and (quite possibly) have to pay a fee for depositing it" - so again, take the actual time needed (again, maybe 30s or so) & multiply by checkout staff wage, add any fee, and you have the cost

"If you pay by debit card, they pay a small fee." 25p or so, not £5 or so though ...

If they want these regulations to work, won't it mean companies will have to actually handle differentiated pricing based on whether you are paying by corporate or personal cards, for example?

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Re: But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

No, You can average it out across a single payment type such as Credit Cards and then just have the difference of that average above the cost of another payment type such as debit cards.

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Re: But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

credit cards are not a single payment type if different cards cost different amounts to process, they are multiple types ...

easier fix: make the companies in question show their actual costs for processing each payment type, explain "yes mr customer if you pay cash it'll cost us 10p, debit card 25p, personal card 2.3%, company card 2.8% - oh, and because we use dial-up, the phone line costs X whereas if we used IP it'd be Y, and keeping track of those difference costs us a few hours a quarter of management time so we have to factor that in too. The phone number for your bank's "business banking payment systems are too complex" complaints department is ..... "

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Facepalm

Re: But, but, but...all payment involves the payee in costs

Your question was "If they want these regulations to work, won't it mean companies will have to actually handle differentiated pricing based on whether you are paying by corporate or personal cards, for example?"

The answer is - No, you can average it out. Credit Cards IS a single payment type. This isn't my opinion it is the regulations.

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Anonymous Coward

Amex / charge card

Not sure why many people seem to think that all American Express cards are charge cards.

This is not the case.

They do offer a charge card product, but their primary business is in credit cards and traveller's cheques.

Amex credit cards account for 24% of all credit card transactions in the US.

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Believe it when I see it

We once had to miss a domestic flight. BMI (as was) were obliged to refund the £40 air passenger duty and they deducted £25 "admin fee". Money grubbing bastards. Will this really be the end that sort of abuse?

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Re: Believe it when I see it

No, if the snouts get ousted from one trough, they'll simply find another.

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Unhappy

Re: Believe it when I see it

As I read it this ruling is purely to do with differential costs incurred relating to payment types. So if they are charging everyone the same "admin fee" then this does not stop them continuing to do so.

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Re: Believe it when I see it

Seem to recall they also add the processing fee per traveller per leg even when it was all part of one transaction so your 'nominal' £5 fee suddenly becomes £40 for a party of four on a return trip even though it is only one debit card transaction.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Believe it when I see it

But you entered into a contract. You didn't turn up, leaving BMI with an seat, which they may or may not be able to sell.

This is a completely different argument.

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FAIL

Re: Believe it when I see it

The key word is "Duty" ie. tax, which they have to pass on to goverment. And if you are not travelling, you forfeit the ticket fee but not the tax.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Believe it when I see it

As I read it this ruling is purely to do with differential costs incurred relating to payment types. So if they are charging everyone the same "admin fee" then this does not stop them continuing to do so.

So get ready for them all to roll out their excuses of "we didn't want to have to change this admin fee to people like you but as we need to charge some people this fee then the law makes us charge you the same".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Believe it when I see it

A nameless Scandinavian EU government lost a EC court case, obligating them to repay pro-rata the extortionate tax they apply to cars in that country, when a car was exported.

The tax rate is approx. 200%. so a 20,000 pound car thus costs 60,000 pounds. After say x-years the car is exported, and maybe it has a local value of 30,000 pounds (there is an official scale for calculation), so the tax component would be 20,000 pounds for refund. The government "fee" for this service is 15% or in this example 3000 pounds.

Governments, you see, are even worse when all is said and done ...

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Joke

Re: Believe it when I see it

Well, did you not say "Sir, I have an admin fee, too, £35 please?"

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Thumb Down

I see the British Museum are pulling an interesting one with their online booking system: no more than 8 in a party and a £1 booking charge *per ticket*. How do they justify that?!

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Anonymous Coward

Booking charge per ticket

I would postulate that a limit placed on the number of tickets that can be purchased in a single transaction is irrelevant if the booking fee is per ticket anyway.

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TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

£2.50 to use your ink and paper to print your own tickets.

'nuff said

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Flame

Re: TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

Bought a ticket through these graspers as there is no other source available for the specific event; The have the monopoly on the ticket sales.

Apart from the actual fee for the seat, I was charged a "booking fee" which increased depending on how expensive your seat price was (just under 10%). Then there was delivery charge for the tickets (£5.25 each ticket) which you still have to pay even if they screw up and you have to collect the tickets on the day (which I had to do 4 years ago - I travelled not knowing for definite if I would even get in). On top of that, there is a fee for payment; and that varies according to card, but you still have to pay.

The worst bit is that they skim off off some of the tickets and pass them on to their "sister" site (Getmein). The tickets that they pass over then go up in price by 2 - 5 times face value. If you try to get normal tickets after they have "sold out", they just re-direct you to Getmein where there are plenty available it seems.

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Thumb Down

Re: TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

I just stopped going to concerts unless I can buy tickets at the door. I refuse to give TicketBastard anymore of my money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

Re: TicketMaster and GetMeIn

Sometimes they skim almost all the tickets off to sell at massively inflated prices on GetMeIn. They do this based on the demand for "pre-sales" tickets - another scam in itself. Take for example a low key gig by a very popular band that my wife wanted to go and see. The pre-sales tickets went on sale on Thursday, and sold out in minutes. Come the following Monday at 9am, and no tickets went on sale - you were immediately redirected to GetMeIn, where the tickets were in excess of £100 each.

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Mushroom

Re: TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

£2.50 sounds like a bargain. US Ticketbastard fees are commonly 50% the ticket price, even for expensive events. Disgust and lack of a box office keeps me away from most concerts.

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Joke

Re: TicketMaster "Ticketfast" Charges

elCheapo, maaaan ...

Ryanair its 40 euros "to print the tickets!", yes sir, that was about the same amount as the fare, one way ...

As for the icon, no, this is not funny, it is criminal!

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Mushroom

Rip off

I have always hated all of these "add-on" fees. Be they booking fees, surcharges, cost recovery, or any other form of fee that the company will have to pay. So, here is a message to all companies that charge such fees:

Why not just include the "fee" in the price of your item? I have no objection to paying a slightly more to have tickets emailed/posted to me rather than having to travel to the theatre myself to buy them. I feel the same about the ISP con-artists who sell broadband at £3 a month (Plus £15pm Line Rental). Why not just say £18pm Including Line Rental? Be INCLUSIVE! And the first person to ban the practice of selling items at £189.99 or £199.95 gets my vote too. What a waste of space that is. Just sell it for £190 or £200. Nobody cares about the 1p saving.

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Re: Rip off

Quite simply, psychology. Even though you or I would not care about 1p, studies have shown this to be an effective marketing ploy. Same goes for "headline price", it may not work for some, but enough to make it a viable trick.

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Go

Total Cost Display

Perhaps one answer is to force businesses that apply such surcharges to publish the price as a range for all payment methods and mandatory inclusions (i.e. payment is not optional, so payment method is not considered optional).

So that "£29" flight would need to be published as "From £49 to £89"

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xyz
Unhappy

mmmmm....

I just bought a DLL the other week and the transaction was in US dollars. When I got my redit card bill the item was converted into sterling at the credit card's exchange rate as normal (obviously not in my favour) and then underneath that was £11 exchange rate conversion fee. I've never seen that before and will be having words.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mmmmm....

That 's what would normally called a commission. An expensive DLL I take it?

Credit card issuers seem to charge a reasonable exchange rate and then pile on the conversion fee.

Back on topic, here in Maine businesses are not even allowed to add a surcharge for credit cards or debit cards. As a result there are some hold-outs who only take cash and cheques. Businesses can offer a discount for using cash or check.

Personally, I like this change and charging a distinct, consistent fee is fine by me. I want to know what the credit card companies are charging and I think it's good for people to understand that credit cards are an expensive way to pay and that's why I avoid them when dealing with local businesses. If you don't need to borrow and don't need the easy recovery you can use cash, debit or even cheque instead and I'm sure the business will be a lot happier.

Booking fees can be annoying, but aside frkm Ticketbastards "convenience fee" I don't mind a separate booking fee that separates the "event" price from the administration price, as long as I pay once per transaction.

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Re: mmmmm....

There are three exchange rates of interest when changing currency. Let's start with the main headline rate that is quoted by financial news outlets like Bloomberg or BFM Business(1). That is what I call the "centre rate", upon which all other rates for exchange between those currencies are based. The centre rate is the rate paid by forex traders who often deal in nine or ten figure sums per transaction.

So, the other two rates? They are the "buy" and "sell" rates. Let's talk about exchanging between dollars and Euros, since that's the sort of forex transaction I'm most likely to have in my everyday life. The "buy" rate is the rate I pay when I buy dollars with euros, and the "sell" rate is the rate I pay when I sell dollars for euros. These rates, in effect, are the centre rate modified by a notional commission rate in favour of the bank / bureau de change / Marks & Spencer(2). (This is the origin of the name "centre rate", since it lies in between the buy and sell rates. A bureau de change in a Eurozone country will normally fix their buy and sell rates for, say, Euros-vs-USDollars as the centre rate minus(buy) or plus(sell) some number of USD-cents per Euro.)

A lot of credit and debit cards will quote the centre rate when converting a transaction quoted in a foreign currency, and then add in an exchange fee. My (French) bank does this, and the fee is (a) small and (b) dependent on the amount of the transaction. I'd say that 11 quid is a bit steep by my standards, unless your DLL was priced somewhere over $1000.

The alternative is that they charge a "buy" rate, but that causes all sorts of problems, since some fraction of the less knowledgeable customers will see a discrepancy between the centre rate and the rate on their bill and kick up an unholy fuss.

(1) BFM Business is a French business/financial news organisation, available in various formats. It is similar in coverage to Bloomberg's news offerings, but with a French slant. BFM originally stood for "Business FM".

(2) I don't know about now, but up to 2009 (during which year I left the UK, and haven't been back since), M&S was the cheapest way to just buy/sell foreign currency against pounds, since their "spread" (difference between the buy/sell rates) was smaller than anyone else's. It was amusing watching Thomas Cook staff in the queue at the M&S exchange counter, as if they could get a better rate there than any putative staff discount...

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xyz

Re: mmmmm....

Nope the DLL was $576 which converted to £377.78 (at 1.52) + £11.14 for a couple of electrons to do stuff and called a non sterling transact fee. Piss and taking spring to mind.

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Re: mmmmm....

There are a few credit cards that don't charge a fee for foreign denominated purchases. Two that I know of are the Post Office Mastercard and Halifax Clarity card. I have the Post Office card primarily for holiday use and the occasional offshore purchase. They charge the "centre" rate, and no additional fee.

There used to be one or two debit cards that also charged no fee (e.g. Nationwide Flexaccount), but as far as I know none are left - they all now charge, typically around 2-3%.

A good place to find out which cards are best (and worst) to use is to look for "holiday spending" on the MoneySavingExpert website.

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Re: mmmmm....

A lot of banks are now stripping out Visa/MC's 2.75% fee into a separate line, rather than rolling it into a single conversion as they used to. You're being charged the same, but the effort for clarify has led to confusion. I hate it.

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