Surcharge law ‘protects retailers too’

credit card

The passing of legislation earlier this week, which sees a government crack down on excessive credit card surcharges, has been met with mixed response by retailers.

Under the new legislation, merchants can be fined $108,000 if caught overcharging customers for using their credit card, under new powers given to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC will be responsible for policing the law, while the Reserve Bank of Australia will set the guidelines for what constitutes appropriate fees.

The NRA said this not only protects consumers, it also “protects retailers from having their reputations trashed by a small handful who do the wrong thing.”

“There has no doubt been gouging of consumers when it comes to credit card fees, but in our experience it has largely been hotels, airlines and taxi companies charging an amount far in excess of the actual cost of providing the service,” said NRA CEO, Trevor Evans. “Along the way, they have given all retailers a bad name.”

“We want consumers to be able to spend their hard-earned cash on the things they want to buy, not on the costs of buying them,” said Evans.

Meanwhile, travel retailer, Flight Centre, says it may raise service fees to combat the cost of the new laws.

“We’re not particularly happy about it, but we don’t think it’s going to be a huge impost on us either,” Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said.

“It might mean we have to put our service fees up a bit to recoup any small loss of margin.”

Mr Turner said about one-third of Flight Centre’s leisure transactions were done by credit card.

“It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the detail because we, obviously, have a risk with chargeback and that has been acknowledged by the RBA.”

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1 comment

  1. Paul Middleton posted on February 26, 2016

    Charging a surcharge for credit card payment (as opposed to cash or EFT) is no different from charging for delivery - it is representative of an incremental cost of business that doesn't apply to all purchases. I think it's perfectly acceptable to apply a surcharge to cover that cost, though I agree this should be reflective of the actual costs incurred. The RBA needs to ensure their legislation doesn't stigmatise credit card surcharges, but simply provides guidance (for vendors and purchasers) on what is appropriate.

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