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Published on Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Thomson takes stand on fuel supplements

Thomson has decided to stop adding a fuel supplement on to its prices.

It says it is taking the lead in the hope that the whole industry will be forced to follow.

In September it wrote to the Office of Fair Trading requesting that all UK tour operators should be required to absorb the cost of fuel supplements before the launch of final edition brochures in December 2006. 

Although it has received an email acknowledging receipt of the letter, the company says the OFT has not yet acted on its request.

Managing director Peter Rothwell said: “Travel companies now have no justification whatsoever for charging a fuel supplement - let alone one that is as high as when the price of fuel was at its peak.  Despite this, companies are continuing to hit their customers with this additional charge. 

“They are simply baiting customers with artificially low prices, then stinging them with unavoidable supplements.

"Just this week, we’ve seen Thomas Cook reducing their baggage allowance by five kilos to just 15 kilos, and then automatically adding £10 to the holiday cost for customers to ‘buy’ the five kilos back. This is outrageous. We refuse to be dragged any further down this route. 

“I’m dismayed that the OFT are still sitting on this issue. As the market leader we had to take a stand on fuel supplements. The OFT should see the benefit to consumers for this to be enforced industry-wide.”

by Bev Fearis

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  • Fleecing the Public!!!!

    In response to Noel's comments, very few industries operate at lower margin percentage than tour operators. The problem is in the way the price is presented to the customer not the actual price charged as I believe consumers are still paying far too little for their holidays. The blame for that is to be shared amongst tour operators, who put on too much capacity and then discount, trying to get the lowest price possible on adverts.

    By nikos costas, Thursday, January 4, 2007

  • Why has it taken TUI so long?

    TUI, who obviously feel they are being whiter than white, should know that AITO has been campaigning to Government against fictitious fuel supplements for well over a year. Even when, towards the middle part of 2006, the forward rate of kerosene for 2007 was $760 to $800 per metric tonne, I calculated that the total per seat cost in fuel for flying a Boeing 757 aircraft to Corfu and back in summer 2007 was approximately &#pound;44. The fuel supplement for 2007, being levied then by many tour operators, was between &#pound;35 and &#pound;40 for summer 2007 bookings. Basically, the fuel supplement per seat almost represented the whole cost of fuel per seat required to fly the aircraft!! The travel industry, and unfortunately it is its leaders who are to blame, has always acted with a market trader mentality. Why stop at fuel supplements? What about late booking fees, ticket on departure supplements and a host of other little lucrative extras that get our industry a bad name? Millions have been made by both tour operators and airlines and, unfortunately, the Government has failed - and is still failing - to act in order to curb these pricing policies. Our normal behaviour stands against us when arguing against APD. How can we object to a rise in APD when the Government knows we are fleecing the public via fuel and other little supplements?

    By Noel Josephides, Wednesday, January 3, 2007

  • will i get my &#pound;80

    Thomson, no fuel surcharges. I booked for Turkey last August and on my invoice I have 2x&#pound;40 fuel surcharge. We don't go until June. I have written to Thomson and am waiting for a reply, do you think i will get the fuel surcharge knocked off?

    By keith winward, Wednesday, January 3, 2007

  • Is this the sign of a trend reversal?

    Thomsons are certainly not whiter than white. However, they are taking a step in the right direction. Hopefully Thomson's actions signal a trend towards a single price for ALL compulsory elements. Optimistic on my part I know but we live in hope.

    By George Georgiou, Wednesday, January 3, 2007

  • Don't be silly

    Liam's comments are hilarious. Imagine complaining about paying &#pound;8 plus &#pound;40 for a one way flight to Greece. How deluded is he to suggest this is not a bargain. That is miles less than the cost of the flight so Thomson were actually subsidising him to go. As for his comments that fuel prices have been the same for a few years that is also nonsense. Summer 2006 versus Summer 2005 cost of fuel per passenger increased by around &#pound;14 per passenger on a 2 hour flight. (thats a conservative figure as well)

    By nikos costas, Wednesday, January 3, 2007


    Surcharges were started by airlines and they continue to increase them as a way of avoiding payment to the travel agent. Many companies owe their existence to the support of the industry and travel agents are the first to be discarded!

    By SUSAN KERR, Wednesday, January 3, 2007

  • What about tax?

    I note that Thomson intends to stop adding fuel supplements to its prices. Quite right too. As usual, they headline it by saying they are taking the lead. I don't think so! Airlines including Easyjet, Ryanair and even BA are offering prices that include all the fuel costs. Now that Gordon Brown has pulled a fast one on airport tax - will they also soon be "included" so customers can see the real price? Jon Constantine -

    By Jon Constantine, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

  • Couldn't get away with it any longer?

    I flew to Greece three times last summer with the same company. The online price varied between 42p and about &#pound;8 each way. A bargain, I thought! Then I got hit with the surcharges of nearly &#pound;40 each way. Not just fuel surcharges (even though fuel has been about the same price for a few years now) but also TOD charges BOTH ways even though I only picked up my return ticket once. Who was the company? Thomson Fly, of course! If Tesco charged a &#pound;10 supplement at the checkout for heating the shop because it was cold outside, would they get away with it? I am as intelligent a consumer as anyone else. They are all doing this because they are being allowed to get away with it. If Thomson are now truly sorry, please can I have my 240 quid back?

    By Liam Dunphy, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

  • Is it any wonder---

    Is it any wonder that tour operators are struggling. They have been conning the consumer for a long time now. Instead of working to the strengths of a package holiday -- service in UK and resort, keen rates with hoteliers and consumer protection etc, they have gone out of their way to compete in the very area it is most difficult to do so --- with the internet. As margins have suffered, so operators have all looked for cynical ways of making up those deficits. Rothwell makes me laugh, talking as if Thomson is whiter than white. To complain when Thomas Cook have come up with a scam that even they had not thought of, or dared to implement. Which operator brought in charging paseengers to be able to sit next to one another on the aircraft? Charging for transfers and several other services that should be part of a package. In the specific area of fuel surcharges Rothwell seems to imply that they would have liked to reduce surcharges but have been unable to do so because other operators wouldn't. Yet Thomson have been producing a "lates" newspaper every 2/4 weeks wherein they could easily have calculated and printed correct surcharges, however they chose to hide it in small print at the bottom of the page. Does the industry really think that the consumer is that stupid. In my opinion it is one of the reasons that so many people now want to be in control of their own arrangements.

    By nigel wallington, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

  • Not a moment too soon

    Feedback from our consumers at shows this practice to be one of the biggest irritants for people. Good on Thomson for taking a stand, now the challenge is on for the rest of the industry to follow.

    By Alex Saint, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

  • At last

    Blimey, an operator decides after years of leading people up the garden path, to come clean about its pricing policy. The EC directive is so clear on this, all compulsory elements should be included in the advertised price, this is not adhered to by any tour operator. Will Thomson still choose to exclude TOD charges when they apply, or increase their baggage allowance back to 20kgs, I wonder? Its amazing that the OFT haven't taken action on this, nor our trade associations. Customers should be able to see what they will pay, not be inundated with "extras" that they see as a normal part of their holiday.

    By Matthew Flint, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

  • Who started it?

    Whereas most people would welcome transparent pricing and, indeed, under the English Law it is a criminal offence to publish a misleading price, we must understand how this has come about. It seems clear that most people look simply at a headline price and do not consider the total cost of a product, and the no-frills carriers are the experts at publishing very low lead-in prices that the public believes. Ryanair's latest offering of 2,007,000 seats at just 99p for travel in 2007 is just the latest example of this. In spite of Ryanair's claim that "... Christmas may be over, but Ryanair just keeps on giving..." nobody should believe that they will actually be able to travel for this price - unless they fly on a pig. The 99 pence ticket is a "loss-leader" and obviously some people will be lucky enough to get one - but all passengers will have to pay APD just as do any others departing a UK airport. But what has this 99 pence promotion put into the public's mind? That the air fare to anywhere in Europe in 99 pence, and anyone charging more than that is ripping them off. I have no quarrel with Ryanair's marketing policies; if they can get away with it, they would be silly not to take advantage of the public gullibility. But, unless and until they are stopped from advertising non-inclusive prices who can blame other principals from doing the same? I applaud Thomson's stand but fear it is unlikely to succeed in the present climate.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, January 2, 2007

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