Opodo, the online flight reservation service, is a classic example of how international businesses take advantage of consumers in the UK.
Comparing seat prices between those intended for UK customers (on opodo.co.uk) with those for French customers (on opodo.fr) demonstrated a discrepancy of Â£20 for exactly the same seat on exactly the same return flight.
At first glance this appears to be a ploy to make money from linguistically-challenged anglophones. Not so. If that were the case, then to get the best price, Brits could just learn a bit of French and book their flights through opodo.fr.
The problem comes with payment – if you are booking a flight through opodo.fr, your credit-card will only clear if it is issued by a French bank. I know this because I tried several times to pay with my LloydsTSB card – which is registered to my French address.
Eventually I booked the flight through airfrance.fr – who were able to undercut opodo anyway, and were perfectly happy to take my credit-card, regardless of where it was issued.
While in theory prices in the UK should be cheaper than in France (because VAT is lower) the reality can be the exact opposite. I have experienced similar price dicrepancies when booking Eurostar tickets too.
In theory the EU should have legislation that prevents such price differentials, but until the UK joins the Euro – like for like price comparisons are always going to be difficult to police.
What do you say Gordon? Is it time to ditch the pound?