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Ryanair faces ban on luggage charge auto-opt-in

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Budget airline Ryanair is on a collision course with the European Commission over a proposed ban on opting web customers in to extra luggage and insurance charges by default.

Brussels plans to outlaw such practices for all e-commerce websites.

Ryanair - well known for charging extra to carry hold luggage, and for its websites' assumption that customers want to pay the charge - is likely to be one of the highest profile companies to be forced to change its business practices.

Other travel operators and retailers are also guilty in the Commission's eyes of taking advantage of online customers' tendency to click through purchase screens without checking what extra charges they may have incurred.

David Mair, head of the Commission's consumer markets unit, said figures from a train company had showed take-up of an ancilliary services online jumped from about 20 per cent to more than 60 per cent when the options were ticked by default. Customers were being harmed, he added.

The ban, although sure to attract fire from Ryanair's famously combative PR corps, is likely to be one of the more popular of a package designed to harmonise consumer rights across the bloc.

Currently working their way through the convoluted European legislative system, the laws as envisaged by the Commission would cut the period when UK consumers have the right to return faulty goods from six years to two. Officials believe it will mean more retailers will sell across borders and prices will come down, but they face opposition from consumer organisations. ®

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