The Government has been accused of costing UK consumers millions of pounds for delaying a decision over debit card surcharges to airlines.
Consumer group Which? submitted a super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in March 2011, asking the regulator to look into excessive credit and debit card charges when booking airline travel.
On June 28, the OFT proposed that charges for paying by debit card should be banned, and Which? says that a simple amendment to existing Payment Services Regulations by the Treasury would achieve this.
But the Government has yet to take any action, meaning that consumers continue to be stung by high fees.
In fact, it is estimated that people are still paying approximately £265,000 per day in debit card surcharges to airlines, despite a ruling by the OFT that they should be banned.
It means that since the ruling, consumers have collectively paid an estimated £18 million in airline debit card surcharges.
Unbelievably, two airlines - Swiss and Lufthansa - have announced plans to start charging customers for using debit and credit cards since the OFT response.
"Despite the Office of Fair Trading stipulating that all surcharges on credit and debit transactions should be banned, it is disappointing to hear that some airlines are still hitting customers with card fees," commented Louise Holmes, spokesperson for Moneyfacts.co.uk.
"It would be wise of the Government to take a stand against these charges to ensure customers receive a fair service when booking flights."
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, also said that the practice must be outlawed.
"A minor change to the law is all it would take to ban the charges on debit cards that you only find out about at the end of a lengthy on-line booking process," he added.
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