The ACCC has been given stronger powers to crack down on excessive credit card surcharges after the Senate yesterday passed legislation aimed at protecting consumers from unnecessary fees.
The measures were recommended by the financial services inquiry and were introduced into parliament last year.
The laws will mean the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be able to issue infringement notices worth up to $108,000 to companies it believes are slugging customers with excess credit card surcharges.
Currently, excessive surcharging by merchants may be prevented under contractual arrangements with payment systems. They are not, however, explicitly banned under the law.
The rules approved by the Senate yesterday are aimed at preventing businesses from charging customers more than what it costs to accept their payment method.
Concurrently, the Reserve Bank of Australia has been tasked with helping to set out what kind of surcharges are permissible by developing appropriate guidelines.
Incorporated bodies that are not listed corporations will meanwhile face a penalty of $10,800 if they are found to have hit consumers with excessive surcharges.
Meanwhile, unincorporated businesses, will face a penalty of $2160 if the consumer watchdog suspects they have breached the rules.
Should the business not comply with the infringement notice, the ACCC can then take the matter to court.
The ACCC will be in charge of enforcing the new surcharge rules, with listed corporations facing a maximum penalty of $108,000 for breaking the law.
This is certainly an interesting development in the credit card world, and well overdue. There is the much larger issue at hand regarding credit card interest rates, especially with Australian interest rates being at almost record lows. How this can be handled by the ACCC is anyone’s guess, yet the developments in the disruptive peer to peer lending market surely have to have the banks looking over their shoulder wondering if they can continue the gravy train of massive credit card interest rates.
Until next time,
Mark @ Marked Focus
At Marked Focus, your business matters to us.
Mark Peterson is the Director of Marked Focus and leads a network of financial industry professionals to help you know your numbers and make the best possible financial decisions for your professional and personal life.
To speak with Mark about all things tax, financial planning, superannuation, or to review your insurance, home loans or personal loans, please contact:
(03) 5996 1990