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Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 14:27 UK

Couple are hit with fuel surcharge

Viewers Ron and Gwenda Bennett
Ron and Gwenda Bennett cancelled their cruise after getting a surcharge
Viewers Ron and Gwenda Bennett have been hit by a fuel surcharge of nearly 900 after booking the trip of a lifetime.

The Dorset couple put down a 10% deposit to go on a 28-day Mediterranean cruise, which was to be their last holiday.

Then the company Voyages of Discovery wrote to them explaining that due to rising fuel costs and currency changes, a surcharge was being added to their 9,000 trip.

"We thought it was an expensive holiday to start with. But then of course with everything going up so much over the last 12 months, we found it more and more difficult to rake the money together. We were going to have to dip into savings to meet the cost, so the extra 900 was just a bitter blow," Gewnda said.

We are not in any way profiteering from our customers - rather the opposite
Voyages of Discovery

"Contrived"

Under travel industry rules, if a surcharge is over 10% of the cost of the holiday, the customer can cancel and get their money back.

However, the Bennett's surcharge comes to 9.92% of the holiday's price, which means they lost their full deposit when cancelling.

"I was quite shocked when I came up with how close the whole thing is to below 10%. I have to say that when you look at everything, they have not broken any rules. But it makes it look contrived," Ron said.

"Heartache"

Voyages of Discovery have told Working Lunch that they followed all the guidelines and got approval from the travel association Abta before applying the surcharge.

Voyages of Discovery brochure
Voyages of Discovery say they are not "profiteering" from customers

The company said in a statement: "We are not in any way profiteering from our customers - rather the opposite."

"The incredible and anticipated increase in fuel costs has caused us much heartache and worry," the firm added.

Abta told the programme that the travel industry has been hit by the strength of the euro and high fuel costs.

"If you look at profit margins, on average, for package holidays they're about 3 to 4%, and these extra costs have wiped those out," Sean Tipton is from from Abta said.




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