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Updated : 30/10/2017

Pricing and payments

When you buy something, you have to be clearly informed about the total price of the goods or services including all taxes and additional charges.

For online purchases, you should explicitly acknowledge - for example by pressing a button - that you are aware that placing your order implies an obligation to pay.

Surcharges: fees for the use of cards and other means of payment

If a trader wishes to charge you extra for using a specific means of payment, such as a credit card, then the fee cannot be higher than what it actually costs the trader to process your payment. In some countries such charges may be banned altogether.

Charges for additional services

You must give your consent to any additional payment requested by the trader, for example express delivery, gift wrapping or travel insurance.

A trader is not allowed to charge you for these services unless you explicitly opted for them. Using a pre-ticked box on the trader's website does not constitute such consent, so you would be entitled to reimbursement of any payment which has been collected in that way.

Sample story

Ewa from Poland bought some books from an online trader, but her credit card was charged with more than the final amount displayed at the point of sale on the trader's website.

As EU rules oblige traders to display correct and complete pricing information before a customer makes a purchase online, Ewa reported this matter to both the company and the Polish authorities. After intervention by the authorities, she was refunded the difference.

Price discrimination

As an EU national you can't be charged a higher price when buying products or services just because of your nationality or country of residence. Some price differences can be justified, if they are based on objective criteria other than nationality.

Sample story

Sometimes price differences can be justified

Bart, from the Netherlands, visited his friend in Germany and went to a swimming pool. He was charged a higher price than local residents, and wondered if this is unlawful price discrimination.

In this case, the price difference is justified. The swimming pool is run by the local authority and financed by local taxes, so local residents have already contributed to the running of the pool and therefore enjoy a lower entry price.

Sample story

You can't be charged more just because of your country of residence

Hilda from Denmark wanted to book a hire car in Spain for her summer holidays. She chose the car she wanted to book on the website of a Spanish car rental company. However, when she entered her address to finalise the reservation, she saw that the total price for her car rental increased by EUR 140.

Hilda contacted her local European Consumer Centre to complain about this price discrimination. They requested that the car rental company bring their website in line with EU rules.

Pricing rules for travel tickets

EU rules on pricing also apply when you buy travel tickets, such as flights or train tickets, either online or in person. This means that when you buy your tickets, all taxes, fees and charges must be included and appear in the total price from the beginning of the booking process. This makes it easier for you to compare prices with other travel operators. 

Any optional supplements (such as travel insurance) must be clearly indicated as such and suggested only on an opt-in basis.

For the purchase of airline tickets, if you discover unclear online pricing when booking a flight, you can report it to the national authorities in your EU country of residence.

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