The Senate passed a bill on Monday that will give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) the power to fine companies that charge customers excessive surcharges on transactions. According to a recent CHOICE analysis, last year, Australians forked out an estimated $800 million in credit card surcharges, with some airlines adding on an 1187 per cent mark-up in surcharges.
The new laws won’t come into effect until the Reserve Bank finalises regulation, which could be some months away. Consumer advocacy group CHOICE is continuing to put pressure on some of the biggest companies, including Qantas and Virgin to ditch their excessive surcharges ahead of the laws taking effect.
“Airlines, ticketing companies and taxis are among the many businesses that have for years punished consumers who pay with credit cards. Even when faced with an earlier RBA ban, these corporate profiteers ignored the rule and continued to inflict pain on our hip pockets,” said CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
“We are delighted that the ACCC has finally been given the power to investigate if a surcharge is fair and issue infringement notices of up to $108,000 for companies that don’t play by the rules,” says Mr Godfrey.
Is this legislation change a win for consumers? Or will these companies simply find another way to recoup the lost revenue in the price of their products? Why have they been allowed to flagrantly ignore the RBA ban?