Excessive Credit Card Surcharges Have Finally Been Banned In Australia

Back in February, the Federal Government passed a bill to give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) the power to rein in companies that slug customers with a high fee when they pay with their credit cards. Today, the law finally came into effect — which means those ridiculous surcharges for using EFTPOS, MasterCard, Visa and American Express are officially banned. Hurrah!

We’ve all felt the sting of the credit card surcharge before, be it for concert tickets, hotel bookings, flights or cab fares. For years, many businesses have been getting away with charging crazy amounts of money, with the airline, ticketing and taxi industries among the worst offenders. From today, this will finally begin to change.

The ACCC now has greater powers to crack down on large businesses who indulge in this frustrating practice. As a direct result, most large companies have “revised” their pricing practices from today.

“We will be enforcing these new rules from today, and the ACCC encourages all large businesses that haven’t already to ensure their payment charging methods are in line with the new law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The new law has caused many large businesses to review their pricing practices. We expect to see a move from flat-fee surcharges for purchasing items like flights, towards percentage-based or capped surcharges.”

Under the new rules, most businesses must charge in the region of 0.5 per cent for debit card purchases, 1 to 1.5 per cent for credit cards, and 2 to 3 per cent for American Express. This is roughly what it costs the merchant to complete the aforementioned transactions.

For the first year the law only applies to large businesses with at least 50 employees and a gross revenue of 25 million dollars or more. It will apply to all businesses from 1 September 2017. In other words, expect to cop the same rubbish from corner stores and Chinese takeaway restaurants for at least another year. Tch.

If you feel like you’ve been stiffed on a surcharge, you can contact the ACCC and make a complaint. Just be aware that under Australian Consumer Law, businesses can still charge “booking fees” or “service fees” regardless of the method of payment.

BPAY, PayPal, Diners Club cards, cash, cheques and American Express cards issued directly by American Express aren’t covered by the new rules. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The next time you purchase something from Ticketek, pay close attention to the fees they charge — hopefully you’ll be able to notice a difference.

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