Charges: Stop firms hiding unfair fees in the small print


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The Independent Online

Annoyed by hidden charges? I am. When I buy flights or tickets to concerts or football matches I expect to pay the advertised rate. But you never do. There’s always an “admin fee”, “booking charge” or even “credit card surcharge” added on top. It’s sneaky and misleading.

The good news is that soon you may be able to do something about it. The Law Commission has today recommended that companies which tuck away hidden charges in the small print should face being taken to court.

In the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts report, it says that British courts should be empowered to examine the fairness of hidden costs from the likes of budget airlines, estate agents and gyms.

The OFT has recently forced some gyms to make their membership schemes less restrictive, and last year it made a number of airlines agree to scrap debit card surcharging and absorb the costs into the price.

But it’s hardly scratched the surface of the trick of companies attracting customers in with low headline rates, only then to hit unsuspecting consumers with, often, massive extra charges.

So I believe that the Law Commission’s proposals should be adopted as soon as possible so that fed-up consumers can take companies to court that mislead them with extra charges.

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