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Ryanair accused of rip-off fares with currency conversion 'trick'.

Byline: KEITH FINDLAY

Which? has warned travellers not to get caught out by Ryanair's "rip-off" currency conversion pricing tactics this summer.

The consumer group is calling on the UK aviation regulator to take action against the budget airline in order to "finally clamp down on the practice".

In its defence, Ryanair said its currency conversion process was "fully transparent" and complied with all applicable EU and national laws on consumer protection.

A spokesman for the airline added: "Customers have the option of paying in the currency of their payment card which gives absolute certainty of the final payment amount."

Which? said its latest research had found a family of four faced being charged an extra PS30 by paying for their flight using Ryanair's "dynamic currency conversion".

Customers are faced with this system when Ryanair displays the price of a ticket in the currency of the departure airport.

If a customer is buying a flight from France or Italy back to the UK, for example, the fare is advertised in euros.

When prompting the customer to enter their payment card details at the end of the booking process, Ryanair switches the price into pounds - automatically applying an exchange rate.

Only after clicking on "more information" do customers find the option to opt out of paying in pounds and revert to euros.

Ryanair warns that opting out could end up costing "significantly more".

But this was far from the case in the flights that Which? Travel looked at.

In a spot check, Which? Travel found a journey from Alicante to London Stansted for a family of four advertised as 565.81 euros. When Ryanair automatically switched the currency to pounds the total fare became PS526.97, an exchange rate of 93p per euro.

On the same day, Visa had an exchange rate of 88p per euro so if the Ryanair customer opted out, they would have paid PS496.72 for the same flight - PS30 less than with the airline's currency exchange.

Among the other family fares Which? Travel analysed, one from Venice to Stansted cost an extra PS26.40, while a journey from Nice to the same airport added an extra PS21 when the currency conversion was applied.

A single adult fare from Berlin to London would have cost PS235.29 with Ryanair's exchange rates, compared to PS221.78 with Visa - a difference of more than PS13.

Across all the journeys Which? Travel examined, Ryanair's exchange rates inflated its fares by around 6% on average.

Which? said it had previously reported Ryanair's use of dynamic currency conversion to the Civil Aviation Authority, and this was the third time it had found the airline automatically opting in passengers to its "terrible" currency conversion rates.

Caroline Normand, director of Advocacy, Which?, said: "This cynical and misleading pricing trick is one of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen" - but Ryanair has been allowed to get away with it due to a lack of action from the Civil Aviation Authority.

"If the regulator is committed to helping improve the experience of passengers, it must clamp down on this practice before thousands more holidaymakers are caught out this summer."

"One of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen"

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DEFENCE: Ryanair said its currency conversion process complied with all applicable consumer protection laws
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Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 17, 2019
Words:552
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