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Convenience stores urge caution over ban on card surcharges

Convenience stores have welcomed government plans to ban above cost card surcharges, but have warned of a burden on retailers if the ban is introduced early.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Convenience stores urge caution over ban on card surcharges

Convenience stores have welcomed government plans to ban above cost card surcharges, but have warned of a burden on retailers if the ban is introduced early.

As part of its submission to the Department for Business consultation on card surcharges, the Association of Convenience Stores has warned that small businesses such as convenience stores would be disproportionately impacted by the early introduction of regulations to ban above cost card surcharge.

The consultation proposes the early implementation of an EU Directive, due to come into force in June 2014, which will prevent retailers charging above cost levels for payment options such as credit and debit cards. An OFT investigation in 2011 showed that there were problems with some companies operating confusing policies and charging excessive amounts, however this was primarily seen in online or distance sales, and in certain sectors such as the travel industry.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "ACS supports measures to improve transparency and remove unfair costs for consumers, however, the consultation does not recognise the many businesses which would be unnecessarily affected if these changes were to be brought in ahead of the June 2014 deadline."

The ACS argues that businesses in sectors with typically low transaction values where the businesses primarily carry out over the counter transactions, excessive card surcharges are not imposed. In addition, it said that any charges that a customer might incur are usually clearly signposted.

Lowman added: "The OFT inquiry last year showed that convenience stores and similar businesses are not the cause of the problem that the government is seeking to address, therefore we are calling for them to ensure that regulations are proportionate and tackle the source of the problem, rather than penalising all businesses."

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