Ryanair Passed Hungarian Family Departure Tax, Authorities Can’t Help
For three months, a dentist practicing in Győr wrote letter after letter to the government’s customer helpline and consumer protection department, asking where to turn because Ryanair had charged them a total of nearly 20,000 HUF ( 49.3 EUR) departure tax before their trip. In England. For a while he got no response, and in the end he got a rather infuriating one. Read our article to know his story.
The Government Customer Helpline
It took three whole months for the Hungarian government to somehow react to the dentist’s problem and try to help them.
Dr Viktor Utassy, who lives near Győr, planned to travel with his wife and three children to visit their daughter, who lives and studies in the UK, in mid-July. They had booked their tickets in time, in the spring, and with Covid having blown their calculations so many times before, they hoped that everything would be fine this time.
Then on June 9, they received a letter from Ryanair saying,
“On June 4, 2022, Hungary introduced a new air traffic tax for passengers on flights departing from Hungary on or after July 1, 2022. This means that even if a booking was made before June 4 but the flight departs from Hungary on or after July 1, this new tax will be payable to the Hungarian government. The new tax is 3,900 HUF (approx. 10 euros). The tax per passenger on the flight is 3,900 HUF.
For five of them, this meant an extra 20,000 HUF (€49.3) for the outward journey, writes Telex.
He wasn’t going to let go
Utassy wasn’t going to drop this case. He wrote a letter on the Government Helpline live chat the same day. Here is an excerpt from the correspondence:
– “Dear Sir/Madam! I am interested in direct transfer of departure tax to individuals, and am not sure where to turn. I received a message from Ryanair today that they will charge us for the tax of 3900 HUF per person for the family trip we booked to England for our daughter’s wedding This goes against government communication Please help!
– Please wait until we respond.
– Thanks! I wait.
– We cannot take a position on this issue. I can assign you the section of the government regulation, if that helps. Also, the tax and customs office is the responsible authority for this, so you can contact them or contact your legal representative.
– Thanks! According to Gergely Gulyás, the government is trying to monitor the price of services and if it finds that companies somewhere are trying to charge the departure tax to consumers, it will punish the “crooks”. Please, if you can, forward this recent incident to the appropriate authorities. Thank you again for your help!
– We are not authorized to forward your request or question. Your opinion is important to us, thank you for reviewing our work. Thank you for your request! Have a nice day!”
After that, the scandal around Ryanair broke
Obviously, he was not going any further. Then that day, the central scandal erupted around Ryanair: Viktor was probably not the only complainant, the government announcing an investigation into Ryanair. In any case, he decided to write a letter to the consumer protection authorities.
In the meantime, July arrived, the family went to England, paid the extra HUF 20,000 out of necessity, and then returned home. Then, on August 8, Viktor received a letter from the Consumer Protection Department of the Budapest Government Office.
Gábor Tóth, the head of the department, informed him that “in order to investigate the matter, he has initiated proceedings against Ryanair. During the proceedings, it was established that the Company had engaged in unfair commercial practices, for which the Consumer Protection Department imposed a consumer protection fine on the Company. These are the 300 million HUF (€739,400) fine imposed on Ryanair by the government.
How would they be compensated?
However, the family did not know how she would be compensated. So they asked that question in their response letter.
“Thank you for your letter on Ryanair. Unfortunately it does not say what action the operator should take towards me to rectify its omission as it has paid and passed on the ‘excess profit’ tax on our family travel? I attach the bank statement. I await your response,” the head of the family wrote.
The answer came the next day:
“Please note that the Consumer Protection Authority does not have the power to enforce civil law claims brought before the courts and therefore cannot oblige the airline to pay the costs charged. You can take your complaint to the tribunal.
In other words, the family could infer that anyone who feels they have been charged the additional income tax should not hope that the government can force the company to repay that amount. Anyone who wants to can sue for their money, they can sue for a few thousand or tens of thousands of forints, even for years.
Source: Telex, DNH