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PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Dec 8, 2011

Surcharges

Consumers’ Association of Canada Study Brings the Consumer Voice to the Table

When it comes to making purchases, a fundamental consumer expectation is that the price advertised will be the price paid at checkout. Penalizing the consumer through added fees or “surcharges” is a practice Visa strongly opposes and is viewed as harmful for unfairly shifting the cost of electronic payments onto consumers.

Recently, the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) released study results on Canadian attitudes towards choice and surcharging at the point of sale. The study affirmed Visa’s strong, pro-consumer sentiments – consumers do not want to be penalized for using their preferred method of payment. In fact, 84% of Canadians oppose surcharging when they choose to pay by credit card and 90% believe they should have the right to choose their preferred payment method be it cash, debit or credit.

The Canadian Competition Bureau is attempting to eliminate Visa’s “no-surcharging and honour all cards” protections for consumers. This is an action that Visa vehemently contests.

Visa’s ‘no surcharging’ policy was created specifically to protect consumers from merchants who seek to impose checkout fees, punishing consumers who choose the convenience, security and reliability of Visa over other methods of payment. 90% of those surveyed by the CAC were unaware of the Competition Bureau initiative to allow merchants to reject a particular form of payment. Visa’s “honour all cards” protection was implemented to prevent merchants from reaching into consumers’ wallets and dictating which payment products they can use. The policy requires that any merchant who elects to accept Visa products for payment must accept all Visa-branded cards. Canadian merchants are able to choose to accept only credit or debit domestically issued cards without having to accept both according to the Voluntary Code of Conduct for the Debit and Credit Industry. Removing this pro-consumer policy will lead to consumer confusion and eliminate consumer choice at the point-of-sale.

Evidence indicates that in those few countries that permit surcharging today, including Australia and the United Kingdom, many merchants have been penalizing their customers with excessive surcharges that far exceed the cost of card acceptance. Surcharges in Australia are now as high as 10 per cent; well above the one to three percent merchants pay their banks for card acceptance. In fact, the Australian situation has become so contentious, that the Payments System Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia is now undertaking a review of their surcharge standards.

Visa remains committed to empowering consumers through a choice of products and resources that allow them to conveniently and responsibly manage their finances. As such, it’s critical that Canadian policymakers review the findings of the CAC study to understand why there will be resounding opposition to any attempts to impose additional checkout fees or dictating which payments products a consumer can use.

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Posted by: Melissa Cassar, Visa Corporate Relations, Canada on December 8, 2011 at 7:00 am