Payments by credit card and Sofortüberweisung must be free


Credit card

The number of a credit card shines in the light. Payments with a credit card must be free of charge, is the verdict of the district court of Berlin.

(Photo: AP)

FrankfurtAnyone who has ever booked a flight on the Internet, should have made similar experiences: First, the price looks quite cheap. However, once you have entered all your personal details and are created at the end of the booking, the ticket is much more expensive – a very annoying situation.

At least for the payment with credit card, Giropay or Sofortüberweisung travel agents may demand however no fee. The Berlin Regional Court has ruled on a claim by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) against the London-based Internet portal Opodo. This emerges from a press release of the VZBV.

For the customers in this case it was not just about a few cents. Instead, the price of air fares more than 40 euros, as the consumer advocates explain: According to Opodo, which belongs to the Spanish online travel company eDreams Odigeo, for a flight from Berlin to Olbia on the Italian island of Sardinia and back on his travel portal 239.98 Euro displayed as the cheapest price.

Ultimately, however, it turned out that the price included a discount for payment with the Viabuy Prepaid Mastercard and Visa Entropay cards. These are only rarely distributed in Germany. If consumers wanted to pay with Visa, Mastercard, Giropay or Sofortüberweisung, the price climbed to a proud € 282.78.

The court has now clarified that consumers in the European Union may also pay by Sofortüberweisung or Giropay free of charge, explains VZBV-Rechtsreferentin Kerstin Hoppe: "In addition, the price of air must not be included at the beginning of the booking, a discount for common payment methods does not apply. "According to the revised European Payment Services Directive PSD2, which has also been in force in Germany since 2018, companies are not allowed to charge for payment with SEPA credit transfers, SEPA direct debits and credit and debit cards.

The judges agreed with the opinion of the VZBV that Opodo wanted to circumvent this ban on its website. It is not true that the company only gives a discount on certain cards and all other payment methods are free. Consumers will see the discounted fare right at the beginning without being able to recognize that the price includes a discount that can only be achieved with less widely used payment cards.

Thus Opodo give no discount for certain payment methods, but raise an additional charge for the common payment methods, it says in the judgment. In the case of Sofortüberweisung and Giropay, the payment is ultimately made by a SEPA transfer, even if another service provider is involved, the judges made it clear.

The judgment of the district court Berlin (Az 52 O 243/18) is not yet final. Opodo has already appealed, as a company spokeswoman told Handelsblatt stressed.

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