This week Cruisin Motorhomes paid a $12,600 penalty following an infringement notice from the ACCC alleging a breach of the excessive payment surcharge laws as outlined in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ban on excessive surcharge payments has been in place since September 2017.

This serves as an important reminder for businesses about the new guidelines and requirements for charging customers an extra service charge when processing card payments.

Cruisin Motorhomes had been charging customers an extra 2 per cent, despite the average cost of processing a payment ranging from 0.41 to 1.48 per cent. The excess payment surcharge laws provide that a business who chooses to impose a surcharge can only pass on the actual cost of processing a payment to customers and cannot make a profit from the surcharge by charging an excessive amount.

ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh reiterated that there may be ramifications for overcharging, saying “businesses need to ensure the credit and debit card surcharges they impose comply with the law or they risk facing ACCC action”.

The ban applies to all businesses, regardless of their size. Under the standards set by the Reserve Bank of Australia, the following payment types are covered by the ban:

  • Eftpos (debit and prepaid)
  • MasterCard (credit, debit and prepaid)
  • Visa (credit, debit and prepaid)
  • American Express “companion cards” (American Express cards issued through an Australian financial service provider, rather than directly through American Express).

The ban does not affect payments processed by PayPal, BPAY, cash or cheques.

As costs associated with processing payments may vary between financial institutions, businesses are advised to contact their supplier for guidance on what fees may be passed on to customers.

For more information on credit, debit and prepaid card surcharges please visit the ACCC website here and if you have any queries about business transactions, please contact:

Paul Gray
Principal Lawyer
T  03 5225 5231
E  pgray@ha.legal

or

Nicole Stornebrink
Associate
T 03 5225 5209
E nstornebrink@ha.legal