Which? plans to launch a “super-complaint” against the surcharges that many companies impose when customers pay with a debit or credit card.
The consumer champion will ask the Office of Fair Trading to investigate card surcharges.
Customers are exposed to the charges at the point of payment and, Which? says, they can be far in excess of what it costs the retailer to process the transaction.
According to Which? research, low-cost airlines are among the worst offenders, with some charging a fee per passenger, per leg of the journey, despite only one transaction taking place.
For example, the consumer champion says a family of four booking a return flight with Ryanair would be charged £40 to pay by card when the cost to the airline would be around 20 pence to process a debit card payment and no more then 2 per cent of the transaction value for a credit card.
The same family would be charged £38 by Flybe and £5.50 by Easyjet for paying for return flights by card.
Which? also found local authorities, estate agents, cinemas and the DVLA are now beginning to levy excessive charges for paying by card.
The super-complaint is Which?’s first since 2007 and marks the start of a campaign against unfair charges. The campaign will be submitted along with the super-complaint to the OFT in March.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: “There’s simply no justification for excessive card charges – paying by card should cost the consumer the same amount that it costs the retailer. Companies shouldn’t be using card processing costs as an excuse for boosting their profits.”