Arlene backs crackdown on rip-off card charges.

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Consumer rights champion, Euro MP, Arlene McCarthy has welcomed a ban on excessive charges for people who use debit or credit cards to buy goods and services.

Arlene said: “Consumers have been ripped off by excessive payment surcharges for too long.  I raised this when I was Chair of the Consumer Protection Committee and delighted we are finally seeing action to put an end to these unscrupulous practices. The campaign by Which? has resulted in this new law coming into force in the UK earlier than the European law stipulated.”

Arlene added: “We now need your help to ensure that businesses are playing by the new rules and don’t continue to charge ridiculous surcharges. If you think you have been charged an excessive surcharge then I urge you to report it to Which?”

“Any surcharges from now on must be reflective of costs incurred by the business, be that for cinema, theatre or band tickets or when booking flights online. There should be no more nasty surprises at the end of a booking process.”


Have you paid excessive surcharges since 6th April?


If you’ve paid for goods or services on a credit or debit card and answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions below, you’ve probably paid an excessive surcharge.


Please note: booking fees, administration charges and other fees that don’t directly relate to processing payments are not considered ‘surcharges’ and have not been banned.


  • Did you pay more than one surcharge per transaction? (For example, if buying flights, did you pay a surcharge for each ticket or each leg of the journey?)
  • If paying on a credit card, was the surcharge more than 2% of the total transaction fee? (For example, for a £200 purchase, the credit card surcharge should be no more than £4.)
  • If paying on a debit card, was the surcharge more than 50 pence?

Consumer champion Which? has long campaigned against hidden and disproportionate surcharges including a 2011 super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading. Which? is asking consumers to submit examples of excessive charges to its website:

Under the new rules traders will be expected to make sure that any payment surcharges are representative of the actual processing cost involved and they do not charge more than this. This will make the process fairer and more transparent for consumers and no longer result in hidden, expensive charges at the end of the payment process.

Surcharges are often cited in the airline sector but are also imposed by some retailers in other sectors, including rail, event tickets, cinemas, car dealerships and hotels. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) estimate that consumers spent around £300m on payment surcharges in 2010 in the airline sector alone.

The OFT’s own consumer research conducted in 2010 found that 87 per cent of consumers objected to extra charges for credit cards and 91 per cent objected to extra charges for debit cards.

Micro businesses and business start-ups will be exempt from the regulations until June 2014, when the directive comes into force. This will allow them more time to prepare themselves for the ban.







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