COACH hire firms have been accused of ratcheting up prices for the Scottish Cup final after supporters were quoted three times their usual fee.
One group of fans said a 52-seater return bus to Glasgow would cost £900 – triple what it normally pays.
A bus firm that the Evening News spoke to offered to hire a 16-seater minibus for £620 on cup final day, while charging just £320 seven days later.
A Hibs supporter, who has been booking buses since the 1980s, said the prices quoted were the highest he had seen.
He said: “We normally use a local company and they could not help us out for the final because of a pipe band competition in Motherwell.
“I started to call round on Monday to be told by nearly everyone that they were sold out. We would hire 20 or 30 buses a season and have done for around 30 years. Even going back to the Hibs v Hearts semi-final at Hampden in 2006, we weren’t paying anything like this.
“These are the highest prices I have ever seen.”
The supporter said while he understood the concept of supply and demand, bus firms were engaged in “blatant profiteering”.
“Just because demand is high doesn’t make it morally right to charge these prices,” he said.
The News contacted several bus hire operators to examine prices and while most Edinburgh-based companies were already out of stock, one firm, Coach Broker – based in Cardiff but advertising online as “Edinburgh Mini Bus Hire” – almost doubled the price for cup final day.
For a 16-seater coach travelling from Edinburgh to Hampden on May 19, it quoted £620 compared with just £320 for the same journey a week later.
Daniel Ford, sales manager for the firm, said price hikes were determined by supply and demand.
“The increase in price comes down to availability,” he said. “We’re a broker so once all the Edinburgh coaches run out, we then look to bring them up from Durham and, because of the dead mileage and driver wages coming from that, there is an increase. That’s just business.”
Steve Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said companies were cashing in.
“It stinks of dynamic pricing,” he said.
“I think the fans will take it or leave it and will be realistic about it. If they’re still looking for a bus, they’ll just pay it.
“At the same time, I can see why some are seeing this as a chance to recoup some losses with the difficult financial climate.
“Fortunately, the bus company we use phoned me first thing on Monday, asked what we needed and we got charged our regular rate.”