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Ryanair in chargeback confusion

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Written by: Emma Lunn
21/05/2020
Ryanair staff have wrongly told customers chargeback is 'fraudulent activity' and could result in being blacklisted by the airline.

Some customers struggling to get a refund for cancelled Ryanair flights, and initiating a chargeback on their debit card instead, claim they were threatened with being banned from flying with the budget airline.

MoneySavingExpert.com claims to have seen at least 10 instances of people saying Ryanair staff have said that chargeback could amount to fraud or that it could result in them being blacklisted from flying Ryanair.

Ryanair customers have also taken to Reddit with similar complaints.

One Reddit user claims that a Ryanair online chat operative told him he could only get a voucher, not a cash refund, for his cancelled flight.

When the customer said he would initiate a chargeback, he claims he was told: “In case you do issue a charge-back through your bank account you might be banned from Ryanair, I am afraid. I advise you to wait until the refund is processed.”

But after MoneySavingExpert.com showed Ryanair evidence of these claims, the budget carrier said its customer service operatives got it wrong and that it wasn’t the airline’s policy.

A report by consumer group Which? last month found some airlines and package travel providers are refusing to provide refunds when flights or holidays are cancelled due to the coronavirus. This is in breach of their legal obligations to their customers.

Several firms would only agree to issue vouchers or credit notes – which may prove to be worthless if holiday firms run into financial trouble – but not cash refunds.

Ryanair passengers are among those travellers who have been complaining about their consumer rights being ignored. Many who requested refunds have been sent vouchers instead, with the option to obtain a cash refund after a 12-month period.

Many customers have been unhappy to wait this long and have instead chosen to use chargeback – a little-known consumer scheme where your bank asks for money back from the supplier’s bank in the event a service has not been fulfilled or product delivered.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, says: “To give Ryanair the benefit of the doubt, we have to view this as human error in highly pressured circumstances, due to possibly systemically poor customer service training – as there is no evidence available to suggest it is a deliberate attempt to lie and spread disinformation to put customers off engaging in their legitimate consumer rights.

“Chargeback is a bedrock of the plastic purchase promise. It is a term of Amex, Mastercard and Visa rules that companies who take payments from these cards must agree to. If customers don’t receive the product or service they were promised, they can do a chargeback to get their money back.

“It is outrageous for a firm’s staff to call asking your bank for a chargeback an act of fraud. Especially when coming from Ryanair, which itself is refusing cash refunds within the timeframe mandated by EU 261/204 – a breach of the law. We hope that by raising this with the firm, it will urgently brief all its frontline staff on this issue. If not and we continue to get reports now we have notified it, then we will report it to the regulatory authorities.”

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