The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) implemented regulations on 18 March this year which was supposed to stop retailers from charging excessive surcharges for those who opt to pay by credit card. Although the average processing fee of a credit card payment is only 0.86 per cent of the total, several companies, large and small, continue to charge fees way in excess of this amount.
One of the largest offenders, Cabcharge, which enables taxi users to pay by credit card, has cut fees in some states when the government has made the demand, but fees are still five per cent, nowhere near the actual amount it costs to process. Australian airlines are also guilty of overcharging, although some have renamed their surcharges to avoid scrutiny. And of course, smaller retailers often charge an additional five or 10 per cent when you opt to pay by credit card.
While the move by the RBA was welcomed at the time, the one flaw in the legislation is that no one appears to have been given powers to enforce the regulations. It has been left up to credit card companies to deal with the issue direct with its clients, leaving the poor consumer with nowhere to turn.
If you have been asked to pay an unnecessarily high credit card surcharge, or have not been offered an alternative means of payment, then you should report the offending business to your credit card provider. You can also sign up to consumer group Choice’s Take Charge campaign. Find out more at Choice.com.au.