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Government to ban ‘rip-off’ card surcharges

Victory for consumers and Which?

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The government has announced plans to support the Which? campaign and ban ‘rip off’ card surcharges

The government has confirmed it will implement a ban against excessive card surcharges following the Which? surcharge super complaint.

Which? submitted a super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in March 2011. 

We asked the regulator to investigate excessive credit and debit card surcharges.

50,000 supporters

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, welcomed the plans as a victory for consumers saying: ‘This announcement goes further than the Office of Fair Trading’s proposals, finally putting an end to these unfair and excessive charges.’

Over 50,000 consumers supported the campaign, either by signing our pledge or challenging financial secretary Mark Hoban and consumer affairs minister Edward Davey, to implement a ban.

Banning excessive surcharges

We were delighted when the OFT upheld our super complaint and the European Parliament agreed to cap debit card surcharges across Europe via an amendment in the Consumer Rights Directive. This is due to come into effect across Europe in June 2014.

We’ve been lobbying financial secretary Mark Hoban to implement the ban in the UK earlier by amending the Payment Services Regulations.

Consumer Rights Directive

The Treasury has now confirmed it will implement the ban on excessive surcharges by bringing the Consumer Rights Directive into effect in the UK by the end of 2012.

Richard Lloyd said: ‘While the law will come into force at the end of 2012, we want companies to be upfront and fair over card charges today.’

The government is launching a consultation on this at the beginning of 2012 and Which? will be involved in the process.

Credit and debit card surcharges

Which? wanted the super complaint to result in companies stating their surcharge fees upfront to allow consumers to compare the best price and therefore improve competition.

Financial secretary Mark Hoban said consumers ‘have a right to understand the charges they may incur up front and not be hit through a hidden last minute payment surcharge.’

He added: ‘The government remains committed to helping consumers get a good deal in these difficult times.’

Fair charges

We also asked for fair charges – for the cost of the surcharge to the consumer to be no more than the cost to the retailer.

And we asked for retailers to absorb the debit card fee as the cost of processing a debit card is no more than 20p.

Which? is delighted that the government met all of our requests and went beyond the OFT’s recommendations.

More on this…

  • Find out more about the surcharge super complaint
  • Join the surcharge debate on Which? Conversation
  • Interested to find out what our next challenge is? Find out how we’re campaign for more affordable energy for everyone
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