Beware of Debit Card Surcharge

05/11/2021 12:19

The Consumer Council of Fiji is reminding merchants not to impose transaction fee for the use of local debit card or access cards via the EFTPOS platform. This is in line with the provision made by the Government in collaboration with the Association of Banks in Fiji on 01 January, 2019 whereby exemptions were made on transaction fee with the use of EFTPOS facility via local debit cards or access cards. This initiative was implemented to promote a cashless society and reduce burden on consumers.  

While the charging of transaction fee for the use of local debit card or access cards via the EFTPOS platform had subsided in the last 2 years due to rigorous advocacy by CCoF, recent complaints lodged by consumers has revealed that certain traders are using this platform to profiteer at the expense of consumers.

In one of the cases lodged at the Council, a merchant applied a surcharge on a customer’s local debit card used via EFTPOS platform. Given that it was contradictory to the mandated practice and a breach of the consumer protection provisions, the Council raised the concern with the merchant who refunded the excess charge to the customer.

Consumer Council of Fiji Chief Executive Officer Ms Seema Shandil says merchants/businesses have had ample time to adjust to this provision and sufficient awareness for greater compliance has also been created hence, it is reasonable expectation that merchants would be well informed to know that they should only charge for the cost of the product or service.

“Merchants are not permitted to make their own fee rules on local debit cards. There should not be any uncertainty in the issue and the practices for all traders should be consistent,” said Consumer Council of Fiji CEO, Seema Shandil.

Ms Shandil further added that such merchants should take a hard look at their business practices and do the right thing.  The cost associated with providing the EFTPOS cost is a normal cost of doing business, which should be borne by the merchant. By levying an additional charge, the merchant is benefitting from the surcharges and putting the customer at a disadvantage.

The Council urges consumers to remain vigilant and check their receipts to detect if any surcharge has been applied on usage of their local debit/access cards on an EFTPOS facility. Charges that are applied and go unreported, encourage merchants to continue with their arbitrary practices. Consumers are further advised that surcharges are only applicable on Visa Credit irrespective of which bank EFTPOS terminal is used. Surcharges also apply on Visa debit cards, if used on other banks EFTPOS facility.

To lodge complaints or seek advice, consumers call the toll-free number 155 or download the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.