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Excessively high surcharge provisions imposed by the ACCC. At the beginning of this weeks, the ACCC initiated its first procedure under the new regulations of the Competition and Consumer Law 2010 (Cth), which prohibit excessively high additional payments. The ACCC is therefore clearly signalling that it is active in overseeing and enforcement of these limits, and is reminding companies in good time to check their credit, debit as well as pre-paid card acceptance charges to verify adherence.

According to these rules, merchant may not impose charges on the customer in addition to the charges incurred for the processing of a particular type of payments (the charges of acceptance), e.g. banking transactions charges and terminals charges. This prohibition shall apply to the methods of payments specified by the Reserve Banque of Australia and shall include, at the time of posting, EFTPOS (debit and prepaid), MasterCard (credit, debit und prepaid), Visa (credit, debit und prepaid), Visa (credit, debit und prepaid) and American Express credit card services provided by Australia's banks.

In particular, these limitations do not extend to BPAY, PayPal, Diners Club and American Express card payment for taxis or payment made by a U.S. bank, PayPal, Diners Club card, American Express card, check or currency. More information, as well as how to find out if a supplement is inflated, can be found in the ACCC data sheet at this point.

Customer update: ACCC introduces first case due to overcharge.

ACCC brought an action against Europcar before the Federal Supreme Court because Europcar claimed to have levied excessively high customer service charges. It is the first legal case initiated by the ACCC under the new ban and reminds companies that credit cards must be subject to a surcharge restricted to the amount they need to handle this kind of transaction.

It is a prioritised area for the ACCC and follows a series of recent enforcements. The ACCC stated on 25 July 2018 that it had initiated legal action against Centre Leasing Pty Ltd (trading as Europcar) for claiming that it levied excessively high credit and debit cardholder charges when clients bought vehicle hire service.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) states that a premium is "excessive" if it is higher than the Reserve Bank of Australia's standard definition of "cost of acceptance". In simple terms, the premium given to credit or debit card holders should not be higher than the amount it takes the company to handle the transaction.

Please see our extensive discussions on the system of inflated mark-ups implemented in 2016. ACCC claims that between July 19, 2017 and November 5, 2017, Europcar applied excess charges to consumers when using Visa or MasterCard credit or debit calling codes to purchase cars for rent. According to the information provided by the customer, the costs of accepting Europcar ranged from 0.78% to 1.24%, according to the creditor.

ACCC claims that Europcar has calculated surcharges of up to 1.43%. Whilst these numbers have fluctuated over the course of successive years and depending on the nature of the cards used, the degree to which clients have been overburdened should be between 0.18 and 0.65 points. ACCC pays particular heed to companies that overload those clients who pay with credit or debit cards.

As the ACCC has indicated, it will continue to follow the incoming award appeals carefully. Violation of the ban on excessively high fines may lead to a punishment of a further USD 1.35 million per violation. Trader excerpts from bank and other payments processing firms are crucial to regulatory adherence. Companies should make sure that these claims are checked on a regular basis and that the expenses incurred by the customer do not surpass the acceptance fee.

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