back to article Gov mulls ban on wallet-draining charges for card payments

The government is to consult on plans to ban companies levying surcharges on consumers when they use payment cards later this summer, the Consumer Affairs minister has said. Some companies currently charge consumers a fee for buying goods or services using credit or debit cards or via other payment methods. Under government …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they should also look at their own DVLA website that charges £2.50 for using a credit card...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They justify that on the grounds that..... Actually how can they justify that? Tax perhaps?

    2. Jon Smit

      It costs to process a credit card

      The DVLA have answered that chestnut

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Jet, Ryan Air they are looking at YOU!

    1. The BigYin

      And theatre/film/concert companies

      A card levy per per ticket? Ridiculous.

      Just how the hell does one pay by cash on-line? And are cards any worse than any other on-line business?

      Just roll the charge into the advertised price you shower of lying bastards,

      See Joe Schmoe in concert! (Or fly to somewhere, the scam is the same)

      Only £10*

      *Plus booking fee, plus handling charge, plus card levy, plus postage; total - £10 per ticket.

    2. Gerard Krupa

      Not just the budget airlines

      It just cost me upwards of £12 to pay for a ticket from Virgin Atlantic by credit card.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just the budget airlines

        But as a % of the ticket price it is not much... Virgin Atlantic tickets are pricey compared to easyjet or ryanair! They slap on a massive fee % wise.

    3. batfastad

      Budget airlines and ticket agents seem to be the worst offenders. So go gov!

      But what annoys me about surcharges is that they don't even seem to be realistic. I run a small online store, processing a few thousand pounds of credit card transactions per month. The rate I pay to my credit card provider is 3.5%, which can be reduced depending on my monthly volume of transactions. But at the moment 3.5% is the maximum surcharge band. I factor this into my prices slightly. I have the attitude that the customer is doing me a favour by buying from me and that without credit card processing my small online store side-line wouldn't exist.

      The credit card surcharges that budget airlines charge are something like 15-40%. Surely with the volume of transactions they're able to get a better rate than that? Or are they actually making a huge profit on the surcharges!

      The government should force anything labelled a "credit card processing fee" to be charged back to the customer at cost price. I would understand charging 3.5% to use a credit card. But I have a big problem with paying 30% to use a credit card!

      These charges should be also only be allowed to be applied once per transaction at checkout. Not per individual item/ticket/seat/whatever.

      And they should have to offer a reasonable alternative for surcharge-free payment, instead of trying to cross sell people into their own pre-paid card schemes. Accepting payment by BACS or something.

    4. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Yes, the budget airlines are the worst offenders here. A £10 per credit card booking is surely more than the credit card company is charging the airline.

      On the other hand, looking at this from a retailer's point of view, the merchant credit card fees are exorbitant. Visa / Mastercard have what is in effect a monopoly, and they charge monopolistic prices, which also need to be controlled. From a merchant's point of view, while it's not reasonable to ask for a credit card processing fee, I understand that they might refuse to accept credit card payment for trivial amounts (maybe £5 or less) where the credit card fee will effectively nix the retailer's profit margin.

      So, yes, abolish the processing fee, AND also force CC companies to reduce fees (or else prosecute for monopolistic price-gouging)

      1. James Micallef Silver badge


        PS - to be completely fair, on the routes that I fly most frequently, Easyjet ticket price + exorbitant administration fee + exorbitant credit card fee + exorbitant baggage fee is still at least 30% less (sometimes as much as 50% less) than any other airline on the same route. Their planes are at least as modern and comfortable (usually more), and I prefer paying £10 for a decent onboard meal that I will actually enjoy than having an undisclosed amount added to the price of my ticket for the 'privilege' of being served a soggy sandwich and dry bun that I won't eat anyway.

  3. pcsupport

    I notice that no company types are mentioned but the word 'airlines' is conspicuous by its omission.

    Ryanair and Easyjet spring to mind....

  4. Martin Silver badge

    While they are at it...

    ...they could look at the "booking fee" scam for theatre and concert tickets....

  5. James 51

    The only difference is going to be that there will be the surcharge and then the difference will be made up by a booking fee or something similar that you must pay to get what you want. This won't even slow down the low grade scamming that goes on.

  6. Benjamin 4

    What's the problem?

    We have a thing called a free market. If people don't want to pay these surcharges then they'll go with another company. And besides the companies that have these surcharges will just put their prices up.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: What's the problem?

      These fees prevent a free market - one in which goods and services are easily compared - because they are normally hidden in the small print or not shown until you are somewhere in the checkout process. So the "headline" price of the item can't easily be compared.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the problem?

      Try finding someone who isn't pulling the higher than seems sensible surcharge, or the surcharge per item trick.

      When the free market fails, its time for "the people" (through the government) to take action

      At least they will be more "honest" about the base cost.

  7. Brian Miller 1

    Paypal might be screwed too

    I wonder if they will increase listing fees to combat this?

    It basically takes away all Paypals profits.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Paypal might be screwed too

      No it doesn't - have you ever used Paypal? They charge the retailer a fee, which the retailer normally absorbs/incorporates into their list price. The gov't isn't saying that banks and card payment providers can't charge a fee to retailers, rather that the retailer can't pass a surcharge to the customer which is any less than the amount the card payment provider charges the retailer...

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: Paypal might be screwed too

        "is any less than" should of course be "is any *more* than"

    2. Jedit

      "It basically takes away all Paypals profits."

      Don't worry, PayPal will still be able to lock people's accounts without reason and keep all the money. That's most of their profit margin preserved.

  8. DF118



  9. Don Jefe

    The Future is Yesterday

    When card payments actually became a viable option for the general public we were told it would keep prices down and make it easier to make purchases. Now that cards have become nearly universal it turns out they cost us MORE than paying with cash.

    Cash worked fine for a very, very long time and I never got charged a fee for paying that way and there were places everywhere to pay all my bills with cash . Now it seems I get a discount for cash but there is nowhere to pay my bills except online with a card. Ugh. What a bunch of shit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how about warranty?

    Regarding the last paragraph -- The government wants to "consolidate, clarify and strengthen" consumer protection legislation.

    So what exactly is the benefit to the *government* for not giving us the same 2-year warranty that the rest of the EU has?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tried have tried this before

    with the airlines, at least a couple of times, if I remember, over the last 5 years or so. It took a "good" few years to legislate on those advertised 0.99 flights, and it also took a few years to force them to display the full (final) price and / or breakdown earlier than at the last booking step. Every time those (...) airlines* were ready well ahead of the new registration to stop the now illegal charge by introducing a new, legal charge, and it's business as usual until the next round. If I remember correctly, something along those lines happened last summer too, when they all stopped using one charge, introducing another. I don't know what the solution is, but clearly spending years and wasting a lot of money on legislation hasn't worked. Al least, I long ago decided to boycott one company run by one particular figure and with each new "story" leaked by this company to the meadia proves it was a sound decision.

    * I don't call those "budget" airlines any offensive names because they are law-abiding, tax-paying, employment-providing business operators in the free economy we all so greatly enjoy.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me guess...

    They'll start pulling a deal with the banks, where:

    1. The charge is what they were previously.

    2. They get some kickback afterwards.

  13. Elmer Phud

    Just in time?

    "The government is to consult on plans to ban companies levying surcharges on consumers when they use payment cards later this summer"

    Considering we have the big money games coming soon and the major money-grabbers will have bonk-to-pay up and working and that Visa is one of the big firms AND that as a punter yer fucked if you want any choice once inside the security cordon (stops folks from bringing in non-sponsored items), then it's no big surprise.

    You don't even need to rummage in thier pockets to grab them by the short and curlies any more.

  14. El Presidente

    Erm .....

    "The government is to consult on plans to ban companies levying surcharges on consumers when they use payment cards later this summer, the Consumer Affairs minister has said"

    What about when consumers use cards the rest of the year ?

  15. ChrisElvidge

    Donkey's ago

    I thought that we had a system where paying by credit card was more expensive (about 2.5%) than paying with cash. Gov't stopped it happening in normal retail stores. Why can we not use the same regulation?

    1. annodomini2

      Re: Donkey's ago

      Still the case, the % paid depends on the deal the business has with the service supplying bank.

      So someone like Tesco's probably pay near to zero due to the volume of transactions, your local corner shop however is probably paying over the odds, hence why many have a minimum transaction before they'll accept a card.

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