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Readers debate rejected credit card fees changes

Categories: Business

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Canada's Competition Bureau posted the results of a recent tribunal that delved into the fees retailers are charged by credit companies. (CBC)

Customers, merchants and other readers on CBCNews.ca were split by the Competition Bureau's refusal to change the rules on credit card fees.

Canada's Competition Bureau posted the results of a recent tribunal that delved into the fees credit card companies charge retailers.

Retailers wanted the right to refuse so-called premium cards that charge them more. Under current rules, retailers aren't allowed to pick and choose which credit card they accept.

Yesterday's story attracted close to 500 comments. Roughly one hour after the decision was made public, more than 130 comments have been posted on today's update, with more discussion on our CBC News Facebook page.

Currently, merchants are required to accept all Visa and MasterCard offerings. Retailers can not charge an additional fee to customers who pay with so-called premium cards, which come with higher costs to the retailer.

Opinions were divided with readers debating multiple aspects of this story. Some defended retailers' interests in this case, especially small business owners.

The company made the product, and the customers are the ones who use it. How on earth do you justify making the only people who don't have a say pay the bulk of the cost? It's ludicrous! - Alec Smith

Although I don't mind seeing the likes of Walmart, McDonalds and Bell get screwed with credit card transaction fees, I do feel for the small businesses that absorb these costs. As long as people get their "free" iPod reward (on the backs of people with poor credit and business owners) they don't care. - 1991 Canadian

It doesn't cost any more to process one transaction over another. The retailer's fee should be the same right across the board. Let the premium card carriers pay more of an annual fee if they insist using them. - 2centsmore

Others took the side of the consumer, rejecting the premise of having to pay more to use premium cards.

I pay well over $100 for my card, I expect it to be taken everywhere that takes Visa. Sorry businesses, I'm with the CC companies on this one. - Alison Shae Lee

Smart move. Retailers would have been better off banding together and negotiating a better deal with the various credit card [companies]. When you go after the consumer, you anger them and lose in the long run. For once the government stood up for the consumer. - Dinorex

Many readers suggested that business owners either reject all credit card purchases, or offer discounts for customers who pay with cash. However, merchants aren't permitted to give preference to one form of payment over another.

If retailers really cared they would offer a cash discount...even at half the rate of what credit card companies charge would be something. But, they don't care. They want to gouge you any way they can and this was just an attempt to get their hands deeper in your pockets. Glad they lost. I will continue to use one card...It gives me points and costs me zero fees. - BcerinABforwork

@BCerinABforwork Retailers are prohibited from offering cash discounts. The credit card companies won't let them. The credit companies are the ones who want cash and debit users to pay for the cost of subsidizing their profits. Why should cash and debit customers subsidize credit users? They shouldn't, but those are the contracts that the credit companies enforce on retailers. - saskan

I thought retailers can refuse credit cards. Some only take Visa or only take MasterCard - or just cash, how is it they are not allowed to dispute this? Credit cards are not legal tender. - Meggsy

@Meggsy All goods are simply offered for sale and it's up to the consumer to decide whether or not to buy. It's possible that the retailer might refuse to accept a credit card, but he'd be shooting himself in the foot. As it's been pointed out, many retailers include their card charges in the final price. It's up to the consumer to bargain. - Orville

A handful of readers told their own stories related to credit card fees - from the perspectives of both the small business owners, and the credit card companies.

It's ridiculous what some of the credit card companies charge retailers. I'm a small business owner and the minimum rate we pay is two per cent. Four per cent for some of the premium cards. It really adds up!!! Debit is only 10 cent per transaction. - Adam Oatman

I work for a financial institution and I can easily say that credit cards are the biggest source of revenue that we have. We try to maximize it in any way possible. This is the result. Lots of people don't fight against it, however maybe it's time you should. - Andrew Evans

As an online retailer, but a retailer none the less, this was a faulty solution from the start, I still wouldn't be able to identify the type of card or what I would pay in fees to accept it, prior to processing. Even the idea of telling a customer that I won't accept their premium card is ridiculous. The only palatable solution to this problem is regulation of the industry. Either a set maximum fee value, like the kinds imposed on interest rates, or a ban on charging merchants for a card company's benefits plan all together. - Kevin Farley

Thanks, as always, for your feedback and discussion. Where do you stand on this decision? Share your thoughts with us below, on Twitter or by email at community@cbc.ca.

Tags: Business, POV

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