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Which? complains about ‘rip-off’ card surcharges


Consumer charity Which? has announced plans to register a super-complaint against the card surcharges many companies force customers to pay when paying with a credit or debit card.

The complaint will be sent to the Office of Fair Trading to help them investigate the claims. Which? decided to start the complaint after it saw that many companies were charging customers far more that the amount it takes to process card payments.

Which? CEO Peter Vicary-Smith said: “There’s simply no justification for excessive card charges - paying by card should cost the consumer the same amount that it costs the retailer. Companies shouldn’t be using card processing costs as an excuse for boosting their profits.

“Low-cost airlines are some of the worst offenders when it comes to excessive card surcharges but this murky practice is becoming ever more widespread, from cinemas to hotels and even some local authorities.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has hit back at the report by criticising the inference that this practice is a retail problem.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, commented: “We welcome this focus on the unjustified card charges customers can face but Which? is wrong to suggest this is a retail practice. Airlines and cinemas are not retailers.

“There is a big card issue for retailers. It’s the widely varying fees banks levy on them for processing the different payment methods. That’s something few customers are aware of.

“On average, the banks’ charges for processing a credit card transaction are 15 times higher than for cash. But responsible, competitive retailers charge customers the same price for an item regardless of how they pay.

“We’ve been engaged in a longstanding campaign and legal action to bring those fees down to levels that reflect the actual, very low, costs of processing transactions. The banks should play fair by their customers as retailers do with theirs.”

Published on Friday 11 February by Editorial Assistant
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