The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Act 2016 commenced on 25 February 2016. The Act inserts a new part into the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) which bans excessive payment surcharges.
On 26 May 2016 the RBA published its Standard which relates to surcharges by merchants when charging customers for the use of a credit or debit card.
The Standard applies to ‘large merchants’ from 1 September 2016, and to all other merchants from 1 September 2017.
The Standard defines a ‘large merchant’ to be one that satisfies at least two of the following requirements: it has a consolidated gross revenue of $25 million or more, the value of its consolidated gross assets is $12.5 million or more, or it employs 50 or more employees.
Surcharges will be excessive where they exceed the permitted surcharge amount in the standard or regulations.
In short, the new provisions limit the amount businesses can surcharge customers for use of payments methods such as credit and debit cards. The limit will be linked to the direct costs of the payment method such as bank fees and terminal costs.
The Standard applies to the following payment systems: MasterCard (credit, debit and prepaid), Visa (credit, debit and prepaid), eftpos (debit and prepaid) and American Express cards issued by Australian banks.
The ACCC’s role is to enforce the ban from 1 September 2016, and to ensure businesses take steps to comply with the law.
The ACCC has published guidance material for consumers and businesses about the ban and what it means.
A new ban stops businesses from charging payment surcharges on credit, debit and prepaid card payments that are excessive. The ACCC will investigate consumer complaints and take enforcement action where necessary.
If a business chooses to impose a surcharge on its customers for making a payment using a credit, debit or prepaid card, the level of the surcharge must not be excessive. The ACCC will investigate complaints of excessive payment surcharging and take enforcement action where necessary.