A new regulation just went into effect allowing stores and restaurants to charge customers who use plastic a credit card surcharge checkout fee. Not many stores are passing the fee along to customers yet, but experts say that could change.
Even the idea of a checkout fee is certain to generate a certain emotion from customers.
“I’m really irritated by the whole thing,” said Julie Kleiman of Indianapolis. “Especially since the taxes have gone up. You know the economy is in a crunch now anyway. I don’t see how this is going to help anybody.”
Checkout fees are now possible because of a settlement with credit card companies that gave retailers the ability to pass on credit card processing fees to customers. The fees typically range from 1.5 to 3 percent.
“We have discussed the settlement with many, many merchants, and not a single merchant we have spoken to plans to surcharge,” Craig Shearman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation (NRF), said in a statement. “The bottom line is that very few retailers would be able to surcharge under the settlement, and that the vast majority don’t want to surcharge even if they could.”
Still, retailers have the dilemma in choosing whether to take the burden upon themselves or charge customers the new tax.
Worse yet, others are afraid retailers will begin to charge consumers twice for the fee, since typically merchants build in costs into their regular pricing.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. The surcharge can’t be applied in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, or Texas. It also won’t apply to anyone using an American Express card regardless of where you are in the US. And the surcharge is limited to credit cards, so you can pay with a debit card or cash to avoid it.
“We’re always evaluating our credit card expenses,” said Sam Carpenter, Executive Director of Global Gifts in Indianapolis. “You know, trying to negotiate those down, whatever we can do to do that.”
But even though retailers like Global Gifts spend a lot on processing fees, don’t look for them to pass them on to you any time soon. Customers here use credit cards about 85 percent of the time and they don’t want to scare off that business.
“It’s a quick and easy decision for Global Gifts that we would not do something like that,” Carpenter said.
Fox59 News found that retailers throughout Indianapolis said the same thing. Checkout fees don’t make sense in the short-term.
Businesses that do decide to charge the checkout fee are required to post a notice either on the door or in the store. The charge is also required to be posted on each receipt, so you can see it for yourself.
“I think businesses will be slow to react to this because they don’t want to be the first one to look cheap,” said financial expert Peter Dunn, also known as Pete the Planner.
According to the National Retail Federation the checkout fees won’t be implemented by major national stores either, but Dunn says all it takes is a few businesses to start.
“I would look for restaurants and very small gift shops to start,” Dunn said. “I think once it happens there potentially you could see like a chain restaurant react or national business.”
As a Fair Trade store Sam says the charge doesn’t fit with Global Gifts’ philosophy.
“We like to be fair to our customers all up and down the line, from the artisan to the customer,” Carpenter said.
If that thinking changes at Global Gifts or any other stores, Kleiman said her habits will likely change too.
“Just look for another way to cut back,” she said. “If there is a another way to cut back.”
If business do begin charging the fees, customers can avoid them by paying with cash or debit card.
Below is a list of states that will allow the new credit card surcharge “checkout” fee for credit card transactions.
22. New Hampshire
23. New Jersey
24. New Mexico
25. North Carolina
26. North Dakota
30. Rhode Island
31. South Carolina
32. South Dakota
38. West Virginia
Get a Quick Quote: