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Businessman successfully fights international airline over booking fee

PUBLISHED: 18:25 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:15 21 February 2019

A Manningtree businessman has successfully challenged an international airline Picture: TongRo Image Stock

A Manningtree businessman has successfully challenged an international airline Picture: TongRo Image Stock

(C) 2006 TongRo Image Stock

An Essex businessman has successfully challenged an international airline over booking fees and forced them to abolish some “unfair” credit card charges.

The surcharges were abolished in January last year following the UK’s adoption of an EU law.

But KLM-AirFrance continued to charge passengers who paid them with certain cards after that date, including personal American Express cards, despite the fact that these cards were included in the ban.

Nigel Roberts, 47, from Manningtree, who is the chief executive of an online business, complained to KLM after he was charged a surcharge in February last year.

The airline initially dismissed the complaint, claiming the ticket had been bought with a company card.

When Mr Roberts persisted, KLM claimed they made an exception for American Express cards - but Mr Roberts was able to prove that in some cases they didn’t.

He then launched legal proceedings and took the airline to the county court, where KLM claimed in their defence that Dutch law does not have the ban applied.

The airline employed a leading firm of solicitors which specialises in defending airlines against compensation claims for delay and cancellations.

But before the case got to trial at Colchester County Court earlier this month, the airliner agreed that it would stop charging for American Express cards and the matter was settled out of court.

Mr Roberts said: “I’m extremely pleased with the outcome. I received an agreed payment which more than made up for any overcharges but more importantly, the airline have stopped making these charges which I claimed were unlawful.”

A KLM-AirFrance spokesman said Mr Roberts started proceedings over the legality of applying a credit card surcharge of £2.74 on a booking he made online using his personal American Express card.

He added: “KLM has established how for legal reasons any charges were not unlawful.

“KLM settled the claim with Mr Roberts out of court for commercial reasons only and never admitted liability.

“The decision not to apply a credit card surcharge on transactions made by using a personal American Express card after February 2019 reflects the commercial relationship with American Express and does not reflect any regulatory issue.

“The decision was totally independent of Mr Roberts’ claim.”

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