Law to stop charges on credit card purchases

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Parliament wants to end retailers charging customers a surcharge for paying with plastic money by taking advantage of loopholes in the existing legislation.

Under a 2021 law, all businesses offering services are legally obligated to accept credit card payments, from kiosks to lawyers.

However, smaller businesses, citing increased operating costs and the fact that they deal in small purchases, have been adding a surcharge for the use of plastic money, evoking an article in the legislation.

Some small businesses have been charging clients wanting to pay with plastic, arguing a tight profit margin on products such as newspapers and cigarettes.

A bill tabled before the House will make clear that no business can charge clients wanting to use their credit cards for their purchases.

Last year, Parliament voted in a law that designates the Consumer Protection Service of the Ministry of Commerce as the competent authority to receive complaints and supervise the market for violations regarding payments with credit cards.

This allowed consumers to submit a complaint to the Service when some businesses impose additional charges for paying with credit cards.

Despite the legislation being introduced, there were some legal ambiguities, which retailers invoked to continue to charge consumers extra or force them to buy more products to increase their overall profit.

The bill amends the Law on the Provision and Use of Payment Services and Access to Payment Systems.

As the Commerce Ministry said in a note to MPs, it had found that two articles in the Law were contradictory.

According to the introductory report of the bill, there is an interpretative conflict between Article 60(1) and Article 62(5).

Based on Article 60(1), when a trader imposes additional charges or offers a discount during credit card payments, they must inform the consumer before the start of the payment transaction.

However, according to Article 62(5), the retailer is not allowed to request charges for the use of the specific means of payment.

Given that the legislature intended to prohibit the imposition of charges by the seller universally and without exception, the legislation amendment is considered appropriate for legal clarity. Therefore 60(1) is deleted.