The Landgericht Berlin has ruled that a company may not charge a fee for payment by credit card or instant transfer if a free payment is only possible with the payment method “Visa Entropay”, which is largely unknown in Germany. The court thus joins the case law of, among others, the Regional Court of Munich, which I addressed in this post.

Opodo, the travel agent sued in the present case, had offered flights which could only be paid free of charge with the virtual card ‘Visa Entropay’. For other payment methods, Opodo charged an additional fee. For example, a fare of 122.35 euros increased by 6.90 euros if the customer decided to pay with a credit card from Visa, Mastercard or American Express. An instant transfer should cost 4 euros.

Since June 2014, however, providers have been legally obliged to offer their customers a free, reasonable and common payment option. If a company offers several variants, it may charge a fee for individual payment methods. However, this must not exceed the costs incurred by the company itself as a result of the use of the means of payment. This is regulated by Section 270a of the German Civil Code (BGB).

“Visa Entropay” was not sufficient for the court as the only free payment option, because it did not meet the legal requirements for a common and reasonable means of payment in Germany. In addition, the required payment fee is ineffective because it significantly exceeds the costs of the company. The vzbv had argued that the cost of a credit card payment is only 0.8 to 2.5 percent of the fare, depending on the agreement between the card institute and the company. Opodo, on the other hand, had demanded a payment fee of around 5 percent for a trial booking. In court, the company failed to prove that it incurdsuchd such high costs as a result of the use of credit cards.

However, the judgment is not final, as Opodo has appealed to the Chamber Court in Berlin.

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