Travel Companies Find Creative Ways to Overcharge Customers

which travelTravel organizations in the United Kingdom trick people into paying more than they actually have to. According to a recently released Which? Travel consumer report, nearly 200 tour operators, hotels, airlines and car hire firms use “rip-off charges”: expensive telephone contact numbers, “hidden” extras and “free” offers that actually include payments. The research found that nearly 30% of companies were using the two most expensive premium rate telephone lines, starting 0871 or 090, while 43% were adding surcharges or unavoidable bookings fees to card payments.

According to the report, airline passengers are paying nearly 8 million pounds in credit and debit card surcharges every month, or about 265,000 ponds per day.

Following the release of the report, Labour leader Ed Miliband appealed to the UK Government to put an end to Britain’s ‘rip-off consumer culture’, which caused customers to pay enormous charges for holidays, savings, banking and parking. The latest research shows that despite impending European Union legislation to forbid such rip-off practices, one fifth of firms use automatic opt-ins, where customers must untick pre-selected boxes to avoid paying for unwanted services such as insurance and airport lounge access.

The report found that ow-cost airline Ryanair uses the most expensive telephone number (1 pound per minute when calling from a landline). Wizz Air (77p), BMIbaby (65p), and Air Malta (60p) are the other airlines that made it to the top of most expensive telephone numbers.

One of the examples used in the report was the booking of a certain flight to Washington – extra legroom (with a 95 pound price tag), early boarding and lounge access where all preselected, while insurance was automatically included when booking through Cottages4you, National Express, Saga and Travelodge. In other cases, travel companies offered ‘free’ car hire, which actually included a compulsory insurance package of 126 pounds.