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Surcharging by merchants on the use of EFTPOS

Proper regulations are needed to ensure consumers are not slapped with excessive surcharge fees by merchants for the use of EFTPOS terminals while making a purchase.

While the removal of EFTPOS charges by commercial banks on January 1 came as welcome news for most consumers, lack of regulation on surcharges could serve as a further setback.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) indicated in correspondence with the Council that there is no regulation that limits merchants from placing a surcharge fee. However the Consumer Council believes there needs to be regulations in place to combat this practice.

Consumers face a risk of being charged excessive fees with no clear guidelines as to how much a merchant can charge. This is unacceptable and to add insult to injury, consumers are not informed of this when they use their EFTPOS cards at certain merchants.

They are left to find out only after viewing their receipts. The Council received two complaints where consumers were charged a $0.50 surcharge by Kundan Singh for purchases below $15. In both cases the consumers were not informed of the surcharge

The Consumer Council of Fiji questioned the supermarket who responded that they had ceased charging the fee and would refund all monies to those who paid the surcharge.

According to RBF, Commercial banks do not set a minimum payment amount for the use of EFTPOS terminal to pay for goods and services.

This minimum EFTPOS payment is set by the merchant. Traders must clarify and notify consumers of any surcharges associated with EFTPOS payments. The RBF also confirmed the surcharge is not collected by the banks but the merchants themselves. What then is the use of removing the EFTPOS charges if they are only being forced on consumers under a different name and pretense?

Consumers are also strongly urged to enquire with the traders whether they add surcharges when using the EFTPOS for purchases. Consumers who believe they have been charged for EFTPOS payments should contact the Council on the National Consumer Helpline toll free number 155.

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