Published on Friday, June 14, 2019

Ryanair denies using 'cynical and misleading pricing trick'


Ryanair has been accused of a 'cynical and misleading pricing trick' by consumer champion Which? Travel.

Which? is calling on the CAA to take action to 'finally clamp down' on the airline's 'rip-off' currency conversion pricing tactics.

But Ryanair insists it isn't breaking any laws on consumer protection.

The issue surfaced after Which? carried out research by pretending to book flights. It says it found that in one case a family of four faced being charged an extra £30 by paying for their flight using Ryanair's 'dynamic currency conversion'.

The conversion system displays the price of a ticket in the currency of the departure airport, so if a customer is buying a flight from France or Spain back to the UK, the fare is advertised in euros.

But when prompting customers to enter card details at the end of the booking journey, it switches the price into pounds, automatically applying an exchange rate.

Customers can only find the option to opt out of paying in pounds by clicking on 'more information'.

Ryanair warns that opting out could end up costing 'significantly more', but Which? found this was not the case.

In a spot check, Which? Travel found a journey from Alicante to London Stansted for a family of four advertised as €565.81. But at the point of paying, Ryanair switched the currency to pounds. The total fare became £526.97, an exchange rate of 93p per euro.

On the same day, Visa had an exchange rate of 88p per euro. This meant that if the customer opted out they would have paid just £496.72 for the same flight - £30 less than with Ryanair's currency exchange.

Likewise, a single adult fare from Berlin to London would have cost £235.29 with Ryanair's exchange rates - compared to £221.78 with Visa - a difference of more than £13.

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

According to Which?, Aer Lingus is the only other major carrier to automatically switch currencies at the check-out, but Aer Lingus makes this switch - and the cost implications - much clearer.

Which? found that the price of one flight with Aer Lingus increased by 3.5% when paying through dynamic currency conversion.

Which? said it has previously reported Ryanair's use of dynamic currency conversion to the CAA and believes the tactic could be in breach of consumer protection legislation.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy 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."

A spokesman for Ryanair said: "Ryanair's currency conversion presentation is fully transparent and complies with all applicable EU and national laws on consumer protection. Customers have the option of paying in the currency of their payment card which gives absolute certainty of the final payment amount."



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