ABTA says 2013 too soon for card charge ban

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has registered its opposition to plans to bring forward to 2013 the ban on ‘above cost’ credit and debit card charges.

The ban on credit card charges is to be imposed by the British government, in response to growing consumer anger over their use by a range of retail industries, including the travel industry. It was recently proposed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ consultation that the ban be brought forward to next year.

In its response, ABTA has argued that its members, agents and operators in the travel industry will need more time to make the IT and marketing changes that the ban will require. It does not want the ban to come into force until 2014, after the EU transposition deadline. The organisation has also said that in its opinion package tours should fall outside the remit of the Consumer Rights Directive, and should be exempt from the ban.

Luke Pollard, head of ABTA’s public affairs, said, ‘Abta supports full transparency of pricing and has worked closely with the Office of Fair Trading to help guide policy in this area. The vast majority of our members offer the option to pay by debit card and absorb the costs themselves to allow consumers flexibility in how they pay. However, it is important that they can offer the option to pay by credit card and be able to recoup their associated costs. We believe that any changes to the policies governing package travel should be made via the forthcoming review of the Package Travel Directive, which specifically addresses the nuances of selling package travel rather than gold plating the Consumer Rights Directive.’