The association found some transactions were seeing higher fees than pre-contracted, pushing up bills with merchant acquirers by 1%. With around a third of consumers paying by credit card, AITO said it was “clear” the travel industry was being “milked a lot of money” by banking organisations and criticised the stealth charges. It has now written to the Office of Fair Trading (OfT) to ask for more transparency across fees for both businesses and consumers. The association’s members would increase charges across all credit cards if forced to do so.
“Holiday companies are not high-margin, high-profit businesses. Many AITO members will make as little as 2% to 5% on the sale of their carefully-crafted holidays. To find that such modest margins are hit by unexpected and unbudgeted additional charges is a big shock and we believe it is totally unreasonable,” said Derek Moore, chairman of AITO.
“What the banks’ merchant acquirers are doing is akin to daylight robbery, costing small businesses and consumers millions, and I think we’re all fed up with our financial institutions getting away with this sort of scam. Enough is enough, and AITO urges other SME businesses in the travel arena to join forces with us and to protest,” he added.