A reader contacted us last week to draw our attention to what they regard as “a highly unethical practice by Ryanair”. She received €75 worth of airline vouchers as a Christmas present from her brother. “Whilst it was a lovely gesture I was immediately sceptical as to whether there would be any value to them,” she writes
Her initial doubts appeared to have been confirmed when she discovered that the vouchers could only be used to book flights through Ryanair’s call centre, which can only be contacted through a premium rate phone line. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, she writes, “the prices of flights are vastly increased compared to the online fares.”
She says she tried to book a return flight to London Stansted from Dublin and was quoted around €140 through the call centre “while online the exact same flight came to €63″. Both these prices included all taxes and one checked-in bag.
She says the attitude of the girl she spoke to in the call centre was very much “‘sorry, that’s just how it is’ and in fact I was advised to book online instead which obviously I did”. She says there was “no point getting into the madness of the situation with the poor girl – especially not on a premium rate phone line.
She points out that she has always flown Ryanair has always defended them, believing that you get what you pay for.
“However, this is why I would never have bought gift vouchers from them in the first place and I am certain that anybody who has flown with them regularly would not have either,” she writes. She says it is people like her brother who is not a frequent flyer “who are being duped – his €75 was essentially free money for Ryanair as those vouchers will never be used,” she writes.
As long as three years ago, the airline admitted that its vouchers could only be used to book flights over the phone and accepted that flights booked through its website were always cheaper. At the time – in July 2004 – it said that the technology for verifying vouchers online was not yet available. Even at the time that response sounded a bit woolly to PriceWatch. But with all the technological advances that have been made since, surely the IT people at Ryanair must have resolved this little difficulty.
We contacted the airline to find out. A spokeswoman said calls were at the national rate of five cent a minute from landlines and the airline’s redemption policy was “clearly stated on all Ryanair vouchers”.