July 16, 2008
Extra ‘Fuel Levy’ By Airlines and Travel Agencies is Illegal, Says Council
By SHELLY PAZ
The Consumer Council warned on Monday that travel agents and airlines charging an extra "fuel levy" after plane tickets have been ordered and paid for are acting "illegally".Attorney Yitzhak Kimchi, responsible for consumer protection at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said Monday, said the Consumer Protection Council had received several calls from customers over the past months who said that they were asked to pay an extra sum in addition to the price of their paid plane ticket due to the surge in fuel costs and the fuel levy updates by the airline companies.
"This is done against the Law for the Protection of the Consumer (1981), which requires the clear presentation and publication of the final price of a product or a service," Kimchi told The Jerusalem Post.
Kimchi expressed great concern that the frequent updates in the fuel levy by airline companies as a result of the continued sharp rise in oil prices could become a common practice.
"The updates in the oil price are well known, reported day in and day out. Airline companies and travel agencies should make sure customers know what they are paying for when the deal is carried out," Kimchi said.
Kimchi added that the use of the term "fuel levy" is also misleading, as customers might think this is a governmental tax when it is not.
"The airline companies decide independently on a price update and this decision has nothing to do with the authorities," Kimchi added.
Kimchi stressed that airline companies must present customers with the full price of a product or service at the time of purchasing and can not demand an additional sum after the deal was carried out.
The Post has learned that several travel agencies, both small- and large-scale agencies, have been calling their clients two weeks or sometimes two days ahead of their paid trip abroad, asking them to pay for an extra fuel levy.
According to one travel agency the Post spoke to under condition of anonymity, airline companies add to their contracts with the travel agencies a paragraph that says that the airline company will charge the travel agency for the cost of the fuel levy at the day of the actual ticketing.
"Of course, the ticketing is not carried out until a few days before the date of the flight," the manager of the travel agency told the Post.
"Small agencies already have to absorb the losses incurred from the drop in the dollar exchange rate regrading flights, tour guides, hotels and many other services, whose costs have changed in a period of seven months," he said.
Kimchi added that customers might have no option to avoid paying the fee, but should still file a complaint against the company.
Originally published by SHELLY PAZ.
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