OFT to monitor airline surcharges

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THE chairman of the Office of Fair Trading told MHKs that his office has already taken action over complaints about airlines charging credit and debit card surcharges.

But Bill Henderson said the OFT would not write to its UK counterpart in support of a ‘super complaint’ lodged by consumer watchdog magazine Which?

In the UK designated consumer bodies can submit a super complaint where the conduct of companies appears to significantly harming the interests of consumers.

The Isle of Man OFT, not being a designated UK consumer body, lodge a super complaint to the UK OFT.

Mr Henderson told the Keys: ‘While not wishing to prejudge the outcome of the UK OFT’s current investigation, I would make the observation that even if Which? succeed in having the credit and debit fees charged by airlines reduced or removed, there is nothing to prevent airlines subsequently increasing the headline price.

‘If this were to happen then the current super complaint made by Which? would be unlikely to lead to a reduction in the price paid by island consumers for travelling by air.’

Mr Henderson insisted he was not a ‘mouthpiece for the airlines’ and personally found the credit and debit charges distasteful.

He said his office had received 17 complaints last year about these fees charged by airlines serving the island and had already taken action.

In September last year, the OFT had contacted the UK Civil Aviation Authority which is the regulating authority for this type of complaint.

The CAA advised that were working with the airlines regarding the implementation of the air service regulations that set out the requirements for transparency in pricing, with all unavoidable and foreseeable charges included in the headline price of the ticket.

‘With regard to the optional charges such as credit car and debit card fees, the air service regulations require them to be shown at the start of the booking process. I would confirm that from the inquiries made by the office it appears that all the airlines serving the island are compliant with the air service regulations in this regard.

‘My office will continue to monitor closely the progress of the UK OFT in considering the complaint.’

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