Are credit card surcharges to be applied in regular shops now?

I received this e-mail a couple of weeks ago, but only got around to answering it at the weekend. Its interesting as it could be a sign of what restaurants and retailers in general might start doing to boost their incomes to make up for their drop in sales.

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and they had a sign on the till explaining that they charge 30c on credit and Laser card transactions due to the administration costs to them. Is this even legal?

I suppose what we’re seeing here is the the TicketMaster or Ryanair online credit card surcharge being brought into the food services sector.

That in itself is a little worrying, especially if it catches on across the wider retail sector. And given the drop in sales, it might be a way for them to bump their income a bit more.

I don’t think that there are any legal issues in this as long as you’re informed about the charge up front. I know that there was talk from Michael Martin when he was minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment about banning credit card surcharges, but he chickened out and it didn’t go anywhere.

I guess the only thing is to avoid anywhere that tries this one on, or stick with cash.

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6 Responses to Are credit card surcharges to be applied in regular shops now?

  1. Francis mahon March 2, 2009 at 13:54 #

    I’m not surprised to see this happening in a coffee shop.

    The cost per transaction (for using the card processing system) to the retailer is considerable. When used for big ticket items it works itself out, in terms of the related cash-handling costs that it eliminates. However, when used for small purchases in an environment such as a coffee shop, it does place a higher cost burden on the retailer.

    Another thing I have noticed is that some shops are displaying notices to the effect that cards will only be accepted for transactions above a certain amount. This seems a friendlier way of discouraging people from presenting cards to pay for low value transactions.

    I suppose what we really need is a cost-effective micro-payment system?

  2. madholly March 3, 2009 at 11:01 #

    I agree with Francis,we have a small business and charges on credit transactions are high,so we decided last year not to take credit card payments and lost out on internet bookings due to the fact that we did not provide credit card facilities.At the moment we are researching different suppliers of credit card facilities and so far the charges we are been quoted are still very high.One Bank quoted 199.00 euro registration fee,.25c on laser transactions,1.99 on business visa and 1.25 on all other visa cards.As Francis mentioned the best way to provide the facilities for customers is to display a notice outlining that card payment will be only acceptable for transactions up to a certain amount.We have a B&B business and the majority of bookings would be internet.

  3. sarah March 3, 2009 at 16:51 #

    I once worked for a small charity and we got a manual machine for processing credit card payments. We negotiated a lower % charge on payments as we had charity status. There was no standing charge. We didn’t use the facility much but it was convenient for the occasional person who wanted to pay that way. It was also handy when we had a public meeting and were selling books or taking entrance money. then the Bank (BOI)wanted us to have an electronic terminal which would have meant a monthly fee + VAT which we could not recover. I think they were phasing out manual machines. I argued with them and said we would be paying out to them more than we got in in some months and that the portable manual machine was so handy for our needs. I left the charity so don’t know what they did about it but it really annoyed me. Surely they should be more customer focussed – our needs were quite different to those of a shop where portability is not an issue and where volume is higher.

  4. bob March 6, 2009 at 16:07 #

    minimum card transactions which are fairly common especially in petrol stations are in fact illegal, i knowthis because i work for a credit card company. The only people affected are the customers as it encourages higher purchases,businesses have the choice to accept cards or not putting their own restrictions is unethical and illegal

  5. Eoin June 23, 2009 at 14:04 #

    You’d know the last answer came from a banker anyway!!! There is considearable cost.. If someone buys a top up from me in the shop for a mobile phone and pay by laser I break even.. If they use a credit Card it actually costs me money.. Small Retailer – living in the real world!!!

  6. Mark August 4, 2009 at 17:18 #

    We operate a small business in the wholesale sector(Very low margins) The bank/credit card company charge us a fee per transaction AND a percentage. All said and done a credit card costs from 50% and up of our profit. It is not a small percentage and we can actually loose money in some transactions.

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