WASHINGTON -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Electronic Payments Coalition today released “Myths and Facts Surrounding Checkout Fees,” an informational document that corrects false and misleading statements made recently by National Retail Federation.
As of January 27, 2013, consumers can be charged a “checkout fee,” or merchant-imposed surcharge, when paying with a credit card. As a result of a major class action settlement agreement between retailers and the payments industry, Visa and MasterCard agreed to retailer demands that they remove their longstanding “no surcharge rule” which protected consumers from these fees.
Without this rule, all retailers – regardless of size – are now free to impose these checkout fees in the 40 states where this practice is legal.
The following is the correct information from Electronic Payments Coalition about checkout fees, along with links to the accompanying documentation to prove their validity.
Question: If a retailer operates stores in multiple states is there a Visa or MasterCard rule or anything in the settlement that would prohibit that retailer from surcharging in their stores in the 40 states where that practice is permitted by law?
Answer: No. There are no existing Visa and/or MasterCard rules that in any way prevent a merchant from surcharging Visa and/or MasterCard credit transactions in such states that do not prohibit surcharging, even when the same merchant may also have a presence in a state in which surcharging is prohibited. In fact, Visa took this question head on in its Visa FAQ for Merchants on its website. There, Visa quite succinctly and clearly informs all merchants, as follows:
|Q.||I operate stores in multiple states. I understand that state laws prohibit me from surcharging in some states where I operate, but not others – does that mean I can’t surcharge in any of the states where I operate?|
|A.||No. If a merchant is prohibited from surcharging in one state, Visa’s rules do not prevent the merchant from surcharging in other states that allow the practice.|
Similarly, there is no such rule that would prohibit this in the settlement agreement.
Question: Is it true, as NRF has stated, that American Express contracts bar surcharging, and that if a merchant accepts American Express that this would also preclude them from surcharging Visa or MasterCard?
Answer: Again, the NRF’s statements are simply inaccurate. The notion that American Express cannot enter contracts with merchants that prohibit or restrict surcharging of American Express transactions without effectively barring all surcharging of any Visa and/or MasterCard credit transactions is just plain wrong. The settlement agreement expressly allows merchants to enter into individual contracts with competing brands that prohibit or restrict surcharging for independent consideration (see, in ¶ 42(a)(v)(C), 42(b)(v)(C), 55(a)(v)(C), and 55(b)(v)(C)).
Question: Is it true, as stated by the NRF, that merchants and their trade organizations did not want the ability to surcharge?
Answer: No, that is not true. Both merchants and trade organizations demanded the option of surcharging as part of the settlement agreement. Previously, both Visa and MasterCard had longstanding rules that prohibited this practice, and reluctantly gave up this “No Surcharge Rule” as a compromise in order to settle the lawsuit. In fact, retailers have been asking for the ability to surcharge for years – as stated in testimony before Congress, in letters to California in relation to its surcharging ban, and outlined in the settlement agreement.
For more information, visit www.electronicpaymentscoalition.org/settlement.
About the Electronic Payments Coalition
The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) includes credit unions, banks, and payment card networks that move electronic payments quickly and securely between millions of merchants and millions of consumers across the globe. EPC’s goal is to protect the value, innovation, convenience and competition in today’s growing electronic payments system. EPC educates policymakers, consumers and the media on the system’s role in economic growth, and the importance of protecting consumer choice and stability for the continued growth of global commerce.