EasyJet have stolen my money

I needed to book a flight from Bonn to London.  EasyJet had the cheapest flights I could find for the day in question, at €73.99.  So here is what they showed in my basket as I went to make the purchase:

Am I being really stupid here, or is it just a tiny bit mysterious why the total of adding up 73.99 and nothing else comes to 89.99?

So I gave up on that, and went to buy the flight from Expedia.co.uk instead: they charge a little more, but I use their site a lot and I know my way around, and trust them in a way that I don’t with EasyJet.  Seemed like a better plan, rather than groping blinding through EasyJet’s maze of twisty little prices, all different.

And then, when I checked out:

(Highlighting added.  Let’s ignore the hideous punctuation for now.)

So it turns out that EasyJet can just reach into my pocket and take £12.95 — just like that.  Money that was not included in the advertised price of the flight.  Money that I did not agree to pay.  That money, as you can see from the screenshot, is a “Credit card surcharge”.

For using my Visa debit card.

An unadvertised credit-card surcharge for using a debit card.

That’s iniquitous, isn’t it?

14 responses to “EasyJet have stolen my money

  1. The EU council of ministers recently passed a directive that should put a stop to this craziness, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/675&type=HTML.

    Member states still have two years to adopt so unfortunately we’ll have to put up with it for a little while longer.

  2. It’s hard to find retailers these days who won’t accept credit/debit cards, albeit above a certain threshold amount. If bars and High Street retailers don’t need to apply a surcharge, then I don’t understand why EasyJet feels it must.

    It’s clearly just another pricing strategy – like an ‘admin fee’ – and bears no relationship to the service it purports to cover.

    Interesting how there is a range of prices, depending on the brand of the card. Possibly a kick-back arrangement going on there.

    I guess many customers are less price-sensitive once they get to the checkout; many won’t want to go through the hassle of taking their money elsewhere at that stage.

    Just shows the power of psychology in marketing … don’t get me started on the use of “£9.99, £99.99” and so on!

  3. In North America, it is either illegal (in some states) or otherwise prohibited by merchant agreement to levy a surcharge for using a credit card. Apparently the law is just the opposite in the UK — strange.

  4. Chris — I doubt its illegal, its a very common practice .. ie: “cash discount” is what they call it now, instead of “non-cash surcharge.”

    Really, its the same bullshit (sorry, has to be said) as paying (in Canada anyway) a ‘system access fee’ for your land or cell phone, or paying a recordable media levy on blank CD, hard drives etc.

    Governments and companies (same thing) have made up arbitrary costs; in the end, the final cost is all that matters, and those who don’t have the BS charges are lower price, and so you go there.

    Drives us all mad!

    I just found out the cell company I’m with started recently not charging the system access fee, so I called them up and demanded they remove it from my bills (what BS is that, grandfathered charges :/), so they did (yay!) .. and then started charging me a ‘paper invoice surcharge’ in its place (!?), so I called to get that removed and told them not to send me bills anymore (which they agreed to.)

    What can you do?

    jeff

  5. Jeff wrote:

    I doubt its illegal, its a very common practice .. ie: “cash discount” is what they call it now, instead of “non-cash surcharge.”

    That sounds like it’s the same thing, but really it’s not. If they offer a cash discount, then the non-cash price is the advertised one, which means that you pay the amount that the web-site actually says rather then £12.95 more. And that means that you can meaningfully compare different prices.

  6. I’ve flown *a lot* in the past year, and to my experience EasyJet also charges more for using a credit card than other airlines. That, coupled with the fact that they leave out *all* extra costs, just to get to the top of the search engines is already a bit conspicuous.

    I mean, try to bring an extra bag, the price of checking in bagage will quickly go to the same level of other airlines.

    Also, the fact they have free seating, somehow triggers mass-mindedness of people when trying to board, they push and shove and try to rush ahead be first ones boarding. It’s like taking and overcrowded bus. Horrible.

    All in all I really don’t like EasyJet. My personal favourite in EU is by far airberlin.

  7. Hanlon’s Razor suggests they were only being incompetent, not attempting to thieve.

    The screenshot would be a good Daily WTF submission though.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  8. Credit card (NOT Debit card) surcharges normally vary between 1 to 2.3%. That’s a whopping 21.6245% they’ve slapped on. That’s just highway robbery.

  9. There’s a reason why they give the real price to Visa Electron holders — almost nobody has one, but they can claim it’s theoretically possible to purchase at that price. (Of course, it’s not really theoretically possible to get a Visa Electron card…)

  10. You were probably brought up with the idea that products and services have a fixed price, but that’s not how money works; the reality is that every price is, to a large extent, determined by a sort of distributed haggling. Fixed prices were a convenient fiction so long as neither side of a transaction pushed too hard, but that has changed, and the thing that has changed it is information technology.

    In the case of the effect of the internet on flight pricing, purchasers had the early edge, through sites like Expedia, which greatly facilitated comparison shopping. The second wave of development moved the pendulum the other way, as sellers created highly complex pricing models using both aggregate and, wherever they can get it, individual customer data. IT also makes it easy to add all sorts of ancillary charges, and to play a shell game by switching them around. I would be surprised if the bit about additional fees was not mentioned somewhere in the verbiage available to you prior to booking (possibly in the user agreement), but it will not necessarily be brought to your attention in advance unless Expedia believes that not doing so is hurting them. I would also not be surprised if the airlines sneak in undisclosed or otherwise unjustified / prohibited charges, believing (with supporting evidence from their analytics) that they will rarely be challenged, and that they will only be wrist-slapped if they are ruled to be violating some regulation.

    There are two ways for us to participate in the negotiation: by taking the trouble to jump through the extra hoops between us and the best price, and by complaining about at least the more egregious practices (to the airlines, the flight-booking companies, the credit card companies and especially politicians; blogging about it is mostly choir-preaching). The effect of one complaint is minuscule, but they do add up, as in the recent case where Bank of America backed off increasing its debit-card fees.

    One consequence of these developments is that instead of having a binary choice between coach and business class, with a big price difference, you can now often purchase a little extra convenience or comfort for a little extra price. Agreed, the lowest price experience is worse than it used to be, but that is an inevitable consequence of a price squeeze.

    The bottom line is that the price of a flight is what you end up paying for it, and thanks to technology, it is harder to comparison shop than it was a few years ago, but easier than it was for many years before that. It is still the case that the inflation-adjusted cost of travel is close to historical lows, and a lot lower than it was when airline travel was broadly regulated.

  11. Lots of good insight from ARaybould, thanks for that. Still, in the end, the problem is not that EasyJet charge a “credit-card fee” for the use of a debit-card — that is grotesque but can be dealt with by, as you say, simply considering it a part of the price. The problem is that the say they will charge one price, and then charge another. You can call it transaction optimisation, or market segmentation, or what have you, but the proper name for it is “lying”.

  12. Some people have Visa Electron pre-paid cards specifically for this reason… they’re pretty cheap in Italy (and Europe in general, I assume). Next time try Air Berlin, they usually cost only a few euros more but the service is much better.

  13. “Next time try Air Berlin” — realistically, it’s a matter of which budget airline flies a route that I can use. Oddly, when I did last fly in from Berlin, I came with GermanWings rather than Air Berlin, because they flew to Bristol.

  14. Pingback: Dark patterns and the travel industry | Meaning HQ

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