Pricewatch reader queries: Is Ryanair liable for costs from strike delays?
Plus: an unromantic end for an engagement ring; and another unhappy customer of Complete Savings
Ryanair ‘not liable for the passenger’s care and assistance’. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
John O’Brennan was caught up in the recent air-traffic controllers dispute in France. “I was due to fly with Ryanair on April 8th from Dublin to Faro,” he writes. Then, 24 hours before the flight, he received an email to say the flight was cancelled and that he should rebook.
“This I did for the later flight on the same day. At the airport, the flight was further delayed by an hour, so we boarded at 9pm. However, the plane then remained on the runway and did not look like going anywhere. Given that it was full of people and I found it incredibly claustrophobic after almost two hours sitting on the runway, I decided I would ask to leave.” John says Ryanair staff “were very good about it and got my suitcase off”.
He is not sure if the plane took off that night. He rebooked for April 13th. “Ryanair were very good about it and did not charge me to rebook. I know that I voluntarily got off the flight myself, but I understand that EU compensation rules suggest recompense may be paid as the later flight on April 8th was delayed more than two hours.”
He had to pay €50 for a taxi at Faro, “money which I lost. There seems a lot of confusion about the EU rules here, so I wonder if you could clarify whether I am due anything from Ryanair.”
We contacted the Commission for Aviation Regulation, which provided us with a comprehensive response. Because the cancellation of the first flight was due to the air- traffic control strike, compensation doesn’t apply. Our reader is not entitled to claim compensation for the delayed second flight on that day; that right arises only if the passenger arrives at his final destination three or more hours after the scheduled arrival time on account of a flight delay.
“Finally, given the very specific circumstances here, we would not consider that the air carrier is liable for the passenger’s care and assistance whilst waiting on the third flight, as they were endeavouring to comply with their obligations to re-route him later the day of his original cancellation.”
The commission also said an air carrier’s liability under Regulation 261 only extends as far as getting passengers to their destination. “Costs incurred at the destination such as pre-paid hotel charges and taxi-fares fall outside of the scope of this legislation.”
Nothing romantic about a ring stuck in customs
A reader who would prefer to remain nameless has been in touch with an unusual problem. Last year he bought an engagement ring down under for more than $6,000 Australian dollars. Its intended recipient was delighted with it, and the happy couple moved home this year. Then the ring was damaged and they sent it back to Australia to be repaired.
“It was sent in a friend’s suitcase. The ring was repaired and sent back using FedEx. This was organised by the jeweller. All was fine until today, when I called the airport looking for the ring, to be told that I will have to pay over €1,000 to clear it. In my utter ignorance, I never fully understood customs or declarations or clearing items.”
He says that, when they got home to Ireland, “we walked off the plane through passport control and drove home utterly oblivious that we were meant to put our hand up and say, ‘Hello. Does anybody want to take €1,200 off me for me buying this abroad? I really had no idea. Now it has come to light as it is in a parcel marked “jewellery” with a value on it. I assume this is how customs calculated the amount I supposedly owe.”
He wants to know if he has a leg to stand on. “It just seems crazy and I suppose half the country is as oblivious to this rule as I am.”
We contacted Revenue to find out more. It is currently looking into the matter but it appears our reader will have to pay the tax that is due on the ring.
An unhappy customer of Complete Savings
Mairéad Mason wrote to us: “I thought I was signing up for a €10 voucher for Ryanair, instead of which I apparently signed up to have my card debited to the tune of €12 per month. Needless to say, I am disputing it and will be writing to Ryanair about it.”
No need: Ryanair did not pass on her details. Rather, a link on its site takes you to the Complete Savings website, where you are prompted to enter your details.
In the past, Complete Savings has told us that to sign up, a customer “must enter their name, email address, postal address and their credit or debit card details on the online sign-up page”. At no point “is any data transferred to the Complete Savings sign-up form from their previous purchase”.
A spokesman said the company “wants all of our members to be happy with the service they receive, and it is not our intention to keep members who do not wish to belong to the programme. In both the cases you highlight, we were happy to offer a full refund as the members had not made use of the benefits of the programme.”