Excessive credit card fees to the axe, come 1 September

Excessive credit card fees will soon be unlawfulWith the passage of the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Bill 2015 (Cth), “a corporation must not, in trade or commerce, charge a payment surcharge that is excessive” from 1 September 2016.

Dean Frith, of Baker Love Lawyers in Newcastle, writes that “the ACCC now has enforcement and investigation powers including being able to issue a notice to corporations requiring them to provide evidence about their payment surcharges and the actual cost of processing payments.”

The changes have been called for by CHOICE, a consumer group for some time. Mr. Frith writes that CHOICE had found “in the case of airfares booked online some airlines were charging surcharges that were in excess of 1,000% the actual cost to the airline of processing the payment via credit card.”

The recent amendments of credit card surcharges prohibit any surcharge that is excessive

The changes apply to “large merchants” from 1 September 2016 and all other merchants from 1 September 2017.

A ‘large merchant’ is one that satisfies at least two of the following three requirements: it has consolidated gross revenue of $25 million or more, the value of its consolidated gross assets is $12.5 million or more, or it employs 50 or more employees.

All businesses should “review the level of their surcharges to ensure that they comply with the new laws.” In doing so, Mr. Frith suggests they should review the guidance issued by the RBA.

See further Dean Frith, Changes to Credit Card Surcharge Laws, published on 26 August 2016. His office can be telephoned on (02) 4944 3322.