Card surcharges ‘should be investigated’

Consumer group Which? is filing a super complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) regarding the level of surcharges levied for buying goods and …

Consumer group Which? is filing a super complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) regarding the level of surcharges levied for buying goods and services with credit and debit cards.

Which? is doing so on the grounds that the amounts people are being made to pay are far more than it costs to process transactions, therefore amounting to naked profiteering.

It identified low-cost airlines as being among the worst chargers, not just for the size of the fee but for the fact a levy is applied for both flights in a trip despite them being paid for in one transaction.

Other excessive chargers include cinemas, estate agents and the DVLA, the group stated.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith remarked: “There’s simply no justification for excessive card charges – paying by card should cost the consumer the same amount that it costs the retailer.”

The move has been backed by the UK Cards Association, which chair Marie Johnson saying: “It is high time customers are given a voice where the true cost of what they are buying is made clear to them.”

However, the British Retail Consortium responded to news of the super complaint by acknowledging some charges are indeed high, but claimed retailers are not profiteering, since they in turn face from banks for processing card payments.

If the OFT does investigate, it may soon establish the truth or otherwise behind the claims and rule on the fairness of such charges – whatever the cause – possibly curbing one contributory factor to credit card debt levels.

By Amy White

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