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More fees from Ryanair, the airline Britain loves to hate

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Lila Allen | 17:46 UK time, Thursday, 1 October 2009

From Thursday, all Ryanair passengers face a £5 charge for the now mandatory online check-in as airport check-in desks are eliminated.

This latest move from Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary is bound to get customers hot under the collar, but will the airline we love to hate really suffer as a result?

Panorama's Vivian White has been out meeting the people who fly Ryanair as well as those who've worked for the airline. Here he gives a sense of what to expect when Panorama's Why Hate Ryanair? is broadcast on BBC One on 12 October at 8.30pm:

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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm looking forward to this. I think Ryanair has a horrendous attitude towards its customers. There is plenty of room in the industry for new airlines but unfortunately each route only has limited scope for competition.
    It doesn't seem reasonable to me that normal costs necessitated (for the vast majority of people) with flying are netted away from the actual price of the flight. The flight 'prices' are only so low because they don't reflect the cost of the flight but depend on super-profit being generated by the fees on paying with a typical debit card or actually getting on the aircraft.
    I wonder if the Competition Commission should consider imposing a rule that prices should as a minimum cover the cost of the product/service. It would have the effect of increasing Ryanair's flight prices, but would also force their hand on the other ridiculous costs.
    I interviewed O'Leary once and asked him about customer satisfaction issues. He said Ryanair had the the lowest customer complaints of any major airline. What a nonsense. I expect most customers would not know how to complain such are the administrative barriers to doing so. I also expect the only way of doing so if via a premium rate phone line. Ryanair has no interest in customer satisfaction beyond the immediate impact on their turnover.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think we all know which way this is going to go. The incessant complaining of us British is driving me insane.

    Prices too high = whinge
    Someone comes along and offers lower prices = whinge.

    #1: I regularly travel Ryanair and others on business and they do exactly what it says on the tin. Where else can you find an airline that pays your taxes for you? I've flown for 2p(!) once. If you want to take bags it costs money to process it so why should I subsidise the minority of passengers who choose that option for example?

    You say, 'The only way of doing so [complaining] if [sic] via a premium rate phone line.' What a nonsense. If you want to complain go their website, at the top of the very first page it gives you the "Contact Customer Services" option. There you'll find their postal address, fax number, telephone number and lost baggage claim form. Complain away to your hearts content.

    Going by your analysis, if there is only limited room for competition surely then the so-called better airlines would have no problem beating Ryanair if they are so good.

    When you buy a ticket, it is completely clear what price you are paying. They can only charge what you agree to. Don't like it - don't buy it. Simple.

    For example, I recently purchased a return easy jet flight (very good flight by the way) but they unknowingly automatically add baggage for £16 and travel insurance for £23.50. This is illegal and Ryanair and all the airlines I've used don't do it but I've yet to see a Panorama programme about this. Their Credit Card fee is a minimum of £6.95 compared to Ryanair's £5 maximum one way. I just won't be using Easyjet again for the moment. I won't mention the British Airways fuel surcharge when fuel prices are currently low.

    Is Ryanair perfect? No, not by a longshot but it's blatently obvious that there is going to be an unfair bias in this programme but I would love to be proven wrong. I have my own opinions as to why so I won't go there.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am absolutely astounded that Ryanair have even dared to include yet another charge to their already expensive 'deals'.

    My family and I booked a flight to Malta earlier this year, and followed the online check-in service perfectly. We arrived at the airport, and told that, even though we had printed off our boarding passes, we had to queue. So, we queued for an hour, only to be told at the desk that we needn't have queued in the first place. We grumbled a bit, but we still had plenty of time left.

    We went to have lunch, and then proceeded - again, with much time on our hands - to departures, to show our online check-in, only to be told that it was not readable. This was not helped by the attendant flapping the piece of paper around in the air whilst trying to get the bar code. We presumed that he would punch in a number and that would be it, we would be on the plane. But no, he sent us back to check-in to get manual passes.

    We were told to queue, which soaked up the remainder of time we had until our flight departed, and by the time the incompetent staff had figured out what we were trying to say, they had made us miss our flight, and made us pay another £400 for the next day's flights. Add that onto a night in a hotel, and the grand total comes to five hundred pounds. We also lost our priority boarding which cost us fifteen pounds, a small amount when compared to what Ryanair charged us for the new flights.

    I am sure that no-one would want to go through anything like this, not to mention the fact that our holiday was cut short, besides pay another of Ryanair's sneaky hidden costs. Ryanair have said that they have received 'no complaints' about the online check-in service. What a load of tosh: our family of four alone have complained three times, to no response. I'm also sure that there are others out there that have experienced holidays similar to ours.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think Ryanair are fantastic, the fee's they charge that everyone is now complaining are ' hidden ' are plain to see prior to booking the flights. I have used Europe's No 1 airline since it started and say they have been the best.

    Todate I have paid £120 for 6 people return from stanstead - aahus denmark
    and I am going back with 6 people at end of month and paid a massive 12p for the 6 of us.... if you play by the rules you reap the rewards !!!!!

    I am fully aware of the extra charges ... but dont pay them .. dont take the luxury of a suitcase when you can easy take a week of clothing in your allocated hand luggage.. pack sensible ...

    I would like to thank ryanair for keeping us close to our family who we can visit 2 -3 times a year.. and even got married there..

    on the negative side I was delayed for 1 hour 1 year ago and missed a semi final on tv ... but thats what sky plus is for... !!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I think Ryanair are fantastic, the fee's they charge that everyone is now complaining are ' hidden ' are plain to see prior to booking the flights. I have used Europe's No 1 airline since it started and say they have been the best.

    Todate I have paid £120 for 6 people return from stanstead - aahus denmark
    and I am going back with 6 people at end of month and paid a massive 12p for the 6 of us.... if you play by the rules you reap the rewards !!!!!

    I am fully aware of the extra charges ... but dont pay them .. dont take the luxury of a suitcase when you can easy take a week of clothing in your allocated hand luggage.. pack sensible ...

    I would like to thank ryanair for keeping us close to our family who we can visit 2 -3 times a year.. and even got married there..

    on the negative side I was delayed for 1 hour 1 year ago and missed a semi final on tv ... but thats what sky plus is for... !!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Ryanair-bashing seems to be a seasonable event with various department of the BBC. Today we had it on the One Show, followed by Watchdog with a promise of furthering the “hate relationship” on Panorama next week.

    I, and various family members and friends have had nothing but positive experiences of flying with Ryanair at ridiculously low costs. That’s because we have read the rules and played the system. In September it was £9 return (total cost per person) Manchester to Sardinia, this month it’s £2 return (total cost) Liverpool to Nimes.

    May I give you two examples of where Ryanair has shown positive responses to requests for assistance?

    Most of the low cost airlines limit the weight of the electric buggies used by people with disabilities to 32kg. Since most electric buggies weigh more than 32kg the airlines will not take them. Ryanair have set no such weight limit.

    After a 6 year battle with cancer my wife died in December of last year. Thanks mainly to Ryanair, we had visited friends, family and various holiday resorts across Europe, once a month for the previous 18 months. This year we had a flight booked to Ireland in January. After Mary died, I telephoned Ryanair to say we would not need the wheel-chair assistance for the January flight and was advised to send a copy of my wife’s death certificate. In response I received 3 emails. It took me a while to realise what had happened. I did not ask for any refunds, but someone at Ryanair worked out that we had not gone to Barcelona in December and that Mary would not be going to Ireland in January or Florence in February and the cost of all three flights were refunded - one email per booking.

    When will “good news” make a programme worth televising?

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh I can't wait for this. All I can say to recent posters who "have only had positive experiences flying with Ryanair" is that you haven't flown with them often enough yet for something to have gone wrong. When it goes wrong with Ryanair, and I promise it WILL happen to you one day, things go very wrong indeed and the basic level of customer service that you're used to pretty much everywhere else simply does not exist for this company - and they really do not care.

    I've probably flown with Ryanair about 150 times, and mostly the flights are on time, and mostly there is an aeroplane on the tarmac, and mostly you manage to get through check-in and on to the plane - but not every time. The run for a "free boarding" seat isn't much fun, but you accept that as part of the deal with a cheap operator.

    But, when you realise that your flight (the first one of the day) has been pulled from the schedule because Ryanair has realised that its first two flights are half-full so they'll scrap the first one and board everyone onto the second one 3 hours later (and you miss that important meeting) you realise that it's not worth it.

    When your flight back home from a business trip on the last plane has been cancelled for mysterious "operational reasons" and that you're stuck in a foreign city and will have to fork out for dinner and a night's accommodation and a couple of taxis, and Ryanair simply refuse to compensate you, it strikes you that this is a very poor deal indeed.

    Lastly, when Ryanair competes on a route (say Stansted to Brussels that used to be served by the simply brilliant Air UK) we all know that it flies to a cheapo airport an hour's expensive taxi ride away (in this case Charleroi, which is almost in the next country!) I used to be able to make a business meeting in Brussels at 9am. With Ryanair it was nearer to mid-day before I could get there. It's not just business travellers that are inconvenienced by this.

    If you've flown, say, ten or even twenty times on Ryanair, it may be that none of these things have happened to you, but they will, and when it does you too will join the "Never again club". I eventually gave up flying with Ryanair completely and simply will not use a company where customer service is not even given lip service. Instead if Ryanair is the only carrier on my intended route from Stansted, a mere 15 miles from my home in rural North Essex, I literally drive right through Stansted airport on my way to the M11 and M25, and carry on to Heathrow or Gatwick. At the end of the day the total journey time is shorter, a bit more expensive, but infinitely more reliable and comfortable.

    I have no problem with budget airlines per se, and I've flown most of the ones operating out of the UK. I'd be happy to fly Easyjet any time even though it's cheap and basic. But with Ryanair you get the impression that Michael O'Leary is seeing just how far he can rip you off without you complaining.

    Incidentally, I used to joke that there's not only a passengers "I hate Ryanair" webiste, there's also a "Ryanair Pilots who hate Ryanair" website (otherwise known as the Ryanair Pilots Association website and I was delighted that O'Leary (who wanted to find out which pilots were posting negative comments and sack them) was quite correctly denied access to this information under the Data Protection Act.

    Eventually, Ryanair WILL fail and it will happen when the "Never again club" reaches critical mass. I can't wait to see this happen, as never has business failure been so richly deserved.

    I hate Ryanair so much that I would rather walk (yes, really.)

  • Comment number 8.

    If you want a bargain flight it has to be Ryanair.
    This year I`ve travelled to Prague, Faro and Dublin for £2.00 return inc all taxes and fees.
    When booking your flight it clearly shows the taxes and charges.
    You then have a choice...
    1)tick the box to accept the terms and book the flight
    2)don`t tick the box and don`t book the flight.
    It`s as simple as that!
    Finally thanks to Michael O`Leary and Ryanair for the many bargain flights, keep them coming...
    Joe Bloggs

  • Comment number 9.

    I only came onto this site because there is no way of leaving a query on the ryanair site via email only expensive telephone numbers.
    I have been attempting to book flights this evening and the web site freezes on the passenger details page. This is something to do with the priority boarding question. Last time I booked flights I was able to bypass this longstanding problem by leaving the answer (yes/no) unticked and declining priority boarding on a pop up query at 'continue to purchase'.
    Alas I have run out of both time and patience so Michael O'Leary will not be recieving any booking or money from me today.
    If anyone has the solution to this problem please share it with me or maybe someone from ryanair is reading this site and can rectify the situation.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ryanair has been a godsend for me and my sister that has dementia, I have to travel to visit her once a month and on my state pension I would not be able to do that if not for Ryanair fares being so low and booking in advance and travelling at the beginning of the weeks I get my fares £1 each way. Checking in is also free with booking in advance and I am able to get to visit my sister which is very good for her as she has very little family that visits her in a care home. If I cannot travel due to not feeling well, the impact of the financial loss of £2 is neither here for there. You can only travel one short bus stop in London for £2 at time and to think that you can travel for an hour on a plane for the same money is wonderful.

    I have on son living outside London about 80 miles away and the cost to visit him and my grandchild on the National Express cost £33.00 return. If I want to get if £5 cheaper then I will have to take the slow train that stops at Harold Wood to utilised my free bus pass. The trains sometimes are almost empty and yet the train company will not let elderly people travel at are a reasonable rate. Compared to Ryanair their planes are full most of the time when I travel with them therefore environment friendly.

    Years ago I would not be able to make such a journey I would have had to save up for nearly a year to make an hour flight to visit back home. Also I remember Freddy Laker back in the 70's that gave people good air fares and I was working in the Health Service then not earning much money and one of my colleague was delighted due to the low fares with that company that she could go on a holiday after a serious operation, poor woman when they were in the air they were told that the company had gone belly up and she was in a terrible way. It was BA that did the damage to Freddy Laker but now it seems to be the media that is doing the damage now for to stop people flying at low cost. Sure you have to queue but that is everywhere and you know exactly what you getting when the fare is £1 a flight what more do people want.....

    When I am travel with National Express and pay them the exhortation fares, I end up having to take a coach as well because of the weekend works that is being carried out on the lines.....I have selfish reason for saying this but LEAVE RYANAIR TO OPERATE AS IT IS NOW PLEASE....

  • Comment number 11.

    When Ryanair first started out they were very cheap and they didn't have all the extra charges they seem to have now.

    However now they seem to be adding extra charges for every little thing they can think of and the prices are not as competitive as we think. I have flown other airlines which haven't cost much more and I haven't had to do the Ryanair dash to get a seat. If you want an early flight from Stanstead the railway service is non existent - hence the cheap early flights.

    The only good thing about increasing costs at Ryanair is they are pushing people to look at the opposition who have been getting as competitive. Lets hope they see sense and the price you see is the price you pay - without all these additional costs they keep thinking up.

  • Comment number 12.

    I cannot believe Ryanair operates as an Airline company still, I think they are a joke whether they add £5.00 to the overall cost of flying with them by not booking in, gives me not one bit of confidence in flying with them, they might be low cost but do I or other people trust them as a reliable Airline company, well for me definitely its a NO.
    They did themselves no favours when they had a weekly programme on TV. The customers who had problems boarding flights especially the lad shown on camera with live Lobsters, most looked so stressed,It perhaps made a few funny storylines of folks being poked fun at behind the desk by rude staff, but I wonder if they interviewed those people again, would they still use a cheap company with no guarantee of a seat. Hopefully by not having to be booked on at the desk they won't have to face some of the ignorant staff.

  • Comment number 13.

    Look guys this is very simple. If people don't like flying Ryanair then they should stop complaining and look to other carriers to get them to where they want to go.

    I fly fairly regularly to Bergerac in south west France and to date have had very few problems. I've paid at bargain bucket rates and also at what I would consider normal commercial fares and in all cases have no complaints around how the costs are structured.

    It's not rocket science in terms of keeping costs down. I use a Halifax EasyCash VISA Electron card which costs nothing to run and avoids the card charges. I've just booked return flights for next February for 2 people for £20 all in. I've got reasonably costed annual travel insurance from a recognised provider, I don't care if I'm not the first to board and take hand luggage only.

    As someone who travels into the London for work, there are numerous days when it has taken me longer to get into or out of London than it would to fly to Bergerac. Not only that, it has cost me more and forced me to travel in cramped trains provided by National Express where the choice is not should I buy an an over the top priced drink (aka Ryanair) but whose armpit do I want to be furthest from?

    So sorry to all of those people who love to knock Michael and his team but until someone else opens up regional European airports at a reasonable cost we will continue use Ryanair.

    After all, BA with Go and KLM with Buzz had their chance and opted out of the budget business. It was not the likes of Mr O'Leary who limited our choice just the lack of foresight of others who ignored the opportunities and find themselves running their operationa at a loss.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is the least subtle of ryanair's little hidden online tricks. One of the better, and more lucrative ones ,is paying for a ticket with a credit-card billed in another currency. If you pay for a ticket online shown in pounds with a euro-based credit card, the conversion rate is about 6-8 per cent over the going bank rate. There is a little pop up screen which warns you about this and offers to show you the "real" rate you will be charged. Mysteriously, however, it pops up and goes away wthin a second and you have no chance of seeing it.

  • Comment number 15.

    To follow on from my comments above, I have tried so many times go get easybus to Stansted airport for the £2 per journey that they are advertising on line and at Stansted airport. Despite trying many, many times I have never been able to book one of these fares. Are these fares available to the public or they just a gimmick to get people to notice them.

    If anyone has booked one of these fares at £2 a time from London to Stansted then please let me know how you did it???

  • Comment number 16.

    About time that someone brought to the attention of the Public the scandelous hiiden charges that ryanair put on after you have found the flight you want and then you are too far into the booking to look elsewhere. This is a ploy that they use as they know most people have entered the passenger names and have gone too far into the booking process to not then pay these excessive charges. This is the only place where you have to pay £40 for a family of 4 just to use your credit card, so on my flight this came to 33.3% of the total charge for a return flight. Then to also charge you for booking online another joke, and as for the Chief Executive, Micheal O'Leary who is arrogant and treats his customers like fools. Hope that this will be the demise of the weasly man, who is also looking to charge you for using the tiolets next, he will probably add that cost just before you enter your card details as all the other hidden costs, To say that these costs are not hidden is a Joke.Where are OFT when you need them, another government dept that is as useless as ryan air. Brain dead is what most passengers are treated like and maybe from some of the comments here (I flew for 12p what rubbish) looks like he could be right. When all the deals are advertised as £10 one way, add your booking fees, card fees and other costs and £10 one way turns into £40 one way, tricky or what. So as far as i am concerned, would not touch these with a bargepole.Leave it to the idiots.

  • Comment number 17.

    I too have travelled with Ryanair several times with no problem and I am quite happy to accept any charges that are up front and reasonable - card charges, booking in etc...

    However a party of 9 of us were due from Stansted to Kerry in August but one member had to drop-out several weeks before we departed. We phoned Ryanair to tell them this and request a refund of taxes as they had charged us but would not incur these. We were told we could not submit a claim until we returned. We also noticed this person had by chance been allocated an item of baggage and asked for this to be changed to another member of the party. Again they said it couldn't be done!

    On our return we wrote to claim back the tax and the baggage charge we had initially paid but been charged again at the airport. We got the usual Ryanair response that their admin charges exceeded the amount claimed and the baggage charges were not refundable as per their terms and conditions.

    The taxes and charges they listed on our invoice came to £49 per person and add the extra £20 for baggage we had to pay twice and Ryanair have taken £69 from us. How can they get away with saying only the government tax is refundable for a start - all the taxes and fees they have charged were not incurred as the passenger didn't fly, so they should all be refundable. Likewise the baggage fee - the passenger didn't travel so the fee should be refunded.

    These are the sorts of things that annoy people and lead to them feeling conned! OFT where are you??

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've flown many times with Ryanair, always cheap flights and on time. By only taking hand luggage and paying with my Electron Card (which ARE available here contrary to the comment I've just heard on Panorama) additional charges are kept to a minimum. Ryanair is only successful because people use them, so they must be doing something right.

  • Comment number 20.

    How soon before Ryanair's cost cutting policies affect safety and 200 passengers pay for their trip with their lives?

  • Comment number 21.

    i have no problem with ryanair's charges. you see them in full before you click to confirm. i dont even have a problem with their deliberately vague booking process where the only logic to it is to squeeze an extra few bob out of you by 'mistakenly' selling you unwanted travel insurance or an extra bag. i dont even have a problem with their unfriendly po-faced staff & their hassle til you drop - or spend - attitude.

    i do however have a problem with ryanair takng a booking from me - AND my cash - & then later in the year cancelling the route & returning my 'bargain' flight, thus obliging me to re-book at a very late - & expensive - date with another airline. they have done this to me twice now, both times from reus to dublin.

    i have no problem with them cancelling a route, if its unprofitable its very understandable, BUT once they accept a booking they should be obliged to complete it OR offer a reasonable alternative. i've made complaints to the spanish consumer's association & the EC but i dont expect anything from it.

    but i wont travel ryanair again in the winter as all i am doing is financing their own market research....

  • Comment number 22.

    I was disappointed at the lack of research done in this documentary. It was effectively an advertisement for Ryanair and a further insight into O'Leary's excellent PR tactics - talk over the reporters. I know for a fact that pilots are currently suffering terribly at the hands of Ryanair. The mind boggles at what is going on (and - no - i am not a trade union person or a 'disgruntled employee'). This employment status issue was only touched on in the documentary. Why werent the recent cases taken by Ryanair pilots in the High Court in Ireland not discussed?
    I respect O'Leary's business tactics, but he should be careful to realise that employees(or 'agents'??) are best treated with a different approach than that of striking bargains with the likes of Airbus. Michael, dont let the flattery go to your head!

  • Comment number 23.

    I refuse to fly Whineair mainly because of their appalling customer service. And because most times Aer Lingus is less expensive Manchester - Dublin and much, much more reliable. You may care to note they have no withdrawn flights from Manchester.

    But it isn't true to say they are "Internet Only". They are internet only if you are booking a flight. If you want to get in touch with them then they are "expensive telephone call" only.

  • Comment number 24.

    I regularly fly Ryan Air between France and London, and have to say that without them my life would not be the same. Yes, the extra charges are a pain, but I'm fully aware of them in advance. Yes, I know the airports they use are often a long way from their publicised destination - try looking at a map before choosing your flight, it's not that difficult. But the alternatives simply aren't realistic. I always look at Air France's website, for exaemple, to see if they can offer me an interesting fare for the same route on the days I want - the quote has never been below £400!! One suspects that the BBC's staff are simply too used to different standards of service, but then they don't have to shell out for a ticket from their own pockets - the licence payer picks up the bill!

  • Comment number 25.

    Sadly this report undermines the credibility of Panorama in my view. It smacks more of character assassination than objective reporting.
    Personally I have never used ryan air because they have not ever offered a service I wanted, I simply used the choice afforded to me by the market and took a better deal from a competitor.
    It is hard to believe that competing airlines do not drive a hard bargain or infringe the benefits their staff enjoy to a lesser extent than ryan air; At the very least they will not be far behind in operating the same practise.
    If such things were significantly important to the majority of consumers, the big supermarkets would not be making record profits during a recession.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 27.

    This programme was just silly and sensationalist. The Stanstead incident was an isolated occasion where things went wrong - it does not represent RyanAir corporate policy.

    The main problem this airline has is that is does not operate like traditional airlines, however Joe Public expects that it should.

    What is wrong with an airline that takes a pick and mix approach to services - only expecting each passenger to pay for the services they actually use?

    I just travelled from Gran Canaria to Liverpool on RyanAir and paid for a checked bag. It was my bag and I am happy to pay for it. I don't expect other passengers who have hand baggage only (and therefore don't need the services of bag-drop person or baggage handling staff) to subsidise me (and nor should they).

    What is all this rubbish about expensive customer service numbers? The numbers on RyanAir's web site are normal Dublin numbers - you can call them for 2p a minute from a BT landline via a call through number such as 0844 838 0720.

    Credit card fees! Stop wingeing people and work WITH the system - open an account with an Electron card or register with EntroPay for a virtual, top-up as you go Electron card.

    Expensive catering on board - it is optional! For my recent flight I made my own sandwiches (very tasty) and I bought a HUGE cup of hot chocolate on the aircraft for £2.50 (it was delicious).

    My messsage to the complainers: Work with the RyanAIr system - don't fight against it and read the Ts&Cs BEFORE you book - don't complain later because you didn't bother to make an informed choice and hated the choice YOU did make.

  • Comment number 28.

    My wife and i recentley flew with Ryanair to Dublin on the 25th of November 2009 we paid 4pence for two adult return flights with no tax and no hidden extras we was not charged any payment processing fees as we paid with a electron, all we paid was just the 4 pence. We are very pleased with Ryanair and I have to give them a thumbs up.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have flown approx twenty flights per year, over the last five years, with Ryanair and only had two late departures. It is simple, basic and cheap. If you don't like that kind of service then go book elsewhere.

    I have paid from 99p each flight to a max of £60 per flight, at xmas, and as far as I'm concerned if they added another £40-£50 in add ons it would still be cheaper than what I used to pay with BA and TAP.

    It is a typical British thing, it seems, to complain about every last thing.
    Remember that you only get what you pay for. I, for one, would be very sad to see them go.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

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