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Ryanair staff wrongly tell customers chargeback is 'fraudulent activity' and could mean they are put on a 'blacklist'

Ryanair staff wrongly tell customers chargeback is 'fraudulent activity' and could mean they are put on a 'blacklist'

Ryanair staff have told customers that the chargeback card-protection scheme is "a fraudulent activity" and could result in them being blacklisted by the airline in the future. But after MoneySavingExpert.com showed Ryanair evidence of this, the budget carrier said its customer service operatives got it wrong and that this is not its policy.

Angry Ryanair passengers have been complaining for weeks about their difficulties trying to claim cash back from the budget airline for flights that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic – with many having already requested refunds and been sent vouchers instead.

Ryanair said last month that those who receive a voucher but don't redeem it within a year may still apply for and get a refund after this period. However, many customers have been unhappy to wait this long and have instead chosen to use chargeback – a completely legal and mainstream customer service scheme where if you claim and that claim is upheld, then your card provider asks for your money back from the firm you bought from.

Yet we've seen at least 10 instances of people saying Ryanair staff have told them that chargeback could amount to fraud or that it could result in them being blacklisted from using the airline again. We also have two screenshots showing live chat conversations where Ryanair staff have said this to customers.

After presenting Ryanair with this evidence, it told us 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."

See How to try to beat the Ryanair refund trap for more details on how to get your cash back.

'Ryanair told me chargeback was a fraudulent activity'

Over the past few weeks, several Ryanair customers have told us of instances of Ryanair staff saying that chargeback is a fraudulent activity or that it could result in customers being blacklisted from using the airline in the future. Two examples of this are below (we've chosen not to name the customers or the customer service staff involved).

In this first example, the customer is told "chargeback is a fraudulent activity" after being told she will be refunded for her cancelled flight once the Government eases social-distancing guidelines:

In this second example, a separate customer is told he may have to be patient and wait for a refund. The customer then says he will put in a request on his credit card and the messages below show him being told that this may result in him being unable to fly with Ryanair in future:

We've heard from several other customers who have been told similar things too, as these tweets demonstrate:

Martin: 'We hope Ryanair will urgently brief its staff'

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. 

"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's policy is to send customers vouchers for cancelled flights

One of the reasons that chargeback is so important is Ryanair is giving out vouchers to people who have exercised their legal right and demanded cash for cancelled flights.

It appears to be telling customers that if they don't use their voucher before the expiry date in 12 months, they will receive a full cash refund.

If you're unhappy with this, you could try pushing Ryanair on live chat to receive a refund quicker. If you're still unsuccessful, you could then try submitting a chargeback request.

There is another card scheme you can try too, called Section 75, but we suggest trying chargeback first. There are full details on why in our Ryanair refund trap MSE News story.

Chargeback has worked with Ryanair and other airlines

Although we can't guarantee that chargeback will work if you're trying to get your money back from Ryanair or another airline, we have seen many success stories.

Some of these can be seen below:

Although it's positive to see these successes it's worth noting that money refunded via chargeback can be 'clawed back'. 

While chargeback can be a very effective way of getting a refund from your bank it's important to understand that even after you receive money following a successful claim, it can still technically be taken back out of your account if the firm you bought from successfully disputes your claim within a limited period (usually within 45 days of your bank approaching the firm).