Exposing hidden charges

Much has been written recently about hidden charges particularly on web bookings

Fluid pricing has been around for a long time. This means that instead of a brochure being an actual holiday cost, it is merely a guide. If this is the case why print the prices at all? Wouldn’t from eg £345 do the job?

In today’s climate it is impossible to quote a price and stick by it 100pc as flight prices fluctuate so much but it it should at least be approximate and honest

Just to name and shame an extreme example, Thomson have an August edition of their winter brochure showing a price of 679. When I tried to price the same holiday on the live system it showed a price of 949 and a “saving” of 230 so the current price of 745 plus a fuel surcharge of 25 and an extra 5kgs of baggage at 25, making 795 for a brochured cost of 679. I believe this to be misleading

The cost of fuel has increased and therefore acceptable but the 25 extra for luggage isn’t. For a two week holiday 15 kgs is inadequate and therefore it is unreasonable to decrease luggage to 15kgs and then add another 25 to increase luggage from 15 to 20.

The other real issue I have with this scenario is that if the original brochure cost.was 679 it should represent what Thomson felt the holiday was worth. Using their own contract on the hotel and their own aircraft they at least have control over pricing apart from outside factors like fuel and exchange rates

Estimating that a holiday is worth 679 and then inflating it to 949 to discount it is neither honest or approximate. It is blatantly misleading as nobody would pay 949 for a holiday that is only worth 679 according to their original estimate

Credit card charges are another sticking point. Our own charges are 1.5pc on credit cards and 2pc on Amex. By using a debit card you can avoid charges altogether, however if I use a low cost airline, the charges are normally a flat fee per person per flight and then you have to add baggage

Easyjet are probably the most transparent as you can get a cost easily and their charges tend to be one of the lowest so, although their priced are initially not as low as say ryanair they don’t add as much on. Most of the other require you go through the names and the whole booking process before getting an accurate cost. Some of them like ryanair and aer lingus add a booking fee to avoid the scrutiny of over inflated credit card fees

I also add a booking fee proportionate to the amount of work involved and I always make this clear before booking but I will already have made sure that I offer the lowest price and have already added in all the extras so you know exactly what you are paying for. I also search through for possible discount codes at the time of booking

Another extreme example of inflated pricing was after XL went under. Monarch kindly took on the job of repatriating stranded clients. The problem was that some of the more popular routes normally costing two hundred had been inflated to over 900 to meet demand.

Prices are always inflated for school holidays. The secret of avoiding this is to book early or when there is a seat sale. Booking at the last minute these days will cost dearly as flight prices will have increased

Tonight I came across a more subtle charge. I noticed that aer lingus had a charge on their exchange rates and don’t tell you that until after you accept. If you decline it doesn’t accept the card so there isn’t actually a choice

Another hidden charge is airlines, tour operators and tourist boards with a premium rate number. Tourist boards and consulates are the worst offenders with 090 numbers costing at least 50p a minute. Many others have 0870 numbers at 10p a minute. This is particularly irritating when you listen to a two minute message and are then left on hold. The last of such occasions was a fruitless 20 minute encounter costing over £2 with Virgin trains

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