However, after the MoneySavingExpert website showed Ryanair evidence of these claims, the budget carrier said its customer service operatives got it wrong and that this is not its policy.
Ryanair passengers have complained in recent weeks about their difficulties trying to claim cash back for flights that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and despite requesting refunds many have been sent vouchers instead, with the option to obtain a refund after a 12-month period.
Many customers have been unhappy to wait this long and have instead chosen to use chargeback – a little-known consumer scheme where a bank asks for money back from the supplier's bank.
However, MoneySavingExpert has seen at least ten instances of people saying Ryanair staff have said that chargeback could amount to fraud or that it could result in them being blacklisted from using the airline again. Screenshots have shown conversations with airline staff, who have told customers “chargeback is a fraudulent activity” and that “it could result it to be [sic] on a blacklist and you cannot use Ryanair in the future”.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “To give Ryanair the benefit of the doubt, we have to view this as human error in highly pressured circumstances, due to possibly systemically poor customer service training – as there is no evidence available to suggest it is a deliberate attempt to lie and spread disinformation to put customers off engaging in their legitimate consumer rights.
“Chargeback is a bedrock of the plastic purchase promise. It is a term of Amex, Mastercard and Visa rules that companies who take payments from these cards must agree to. If customers don't receive the product or service they were promised, they can do a chargeback to get their money back.”
He added: “It is outrageous for a firm's staff to call asking your bank for a chargeback an act of fraud. Especially when coming from Ryanair, which itself is refusing cash refunds within the timeframe mandated by EU 261/204 – a breach of the law. We hope that by raising this with the firm, it will urgently brief all its frontline staff on this issue. If not and we continue to get reports now we have notified it, then we will report it to the regulatory authorities.”
Ryanair said its staff were mistaken, adding: “These claims are untrue. Chargebacks are not considered a fraudulent activity and Ryanair only 'blacklists' customers in confirmed fraud cases.”