A national campervan and motorhome rental company has reviewed its payment processes and paid a fine of $12,600, after the consumer watchdog took action over what it says was a breach of excessive payment surcharge laws.
The laws came into effect for small and medium businesses in September 2017 and prohibit businesses from charging surcharges for debit and credit card payments that exceed the cost to the business of processing the payments.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged that in January this year, Cruisin Motorhomes charged a 2% surcharge to Visa and MasterCard customers, when the cost to the business of processing payments using those cards ranged between 0.41% and 1.48%.
The regulator issued the business with an infringement notice for the alleged breach, and the company paid the associated $12,600 penalty.
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The ACCC said in a statement that the company, which has branches in Hobart, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, cooperated with the regulator’s investigation and has taken steps to review and reduce its card surcharges.
“If businesses choose to impose a surcharge, they can only charge customers what it costs them to process a payment,” said ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh in the statement.
“Businesses need to ensure the credit and debit card surcharges they impose comply with the law or they risk facing ACCC action.”
Cruisin Motorhomes is not the first business to find itself answering questions from the ACCC in relation to its card surcharges.
In November last year, online gift retailer RedBalloon was fined $43,200 by the ACCC for allegedly overcharing four customers for “excessive payment surcharges” on credit card purchases.
The ban on excessive surcharges has been in place for large businesses since 2016 and RedBalloon founding director Naomi Simson told SmartCompany in November that she wasn’t aware the business was classified as a “large” business, and therefore subject to the rules since September 2016.
“It’s a very expensive lesson,” she said at the time.
For businesses confused about what the laws are — and what the potential penalties are for breaching those laws — this SmartCompany guide will help. There’s also further information available from the ACCC website here.
SmartCompany has contacted Cruisin Motorhomes for a response.