How will you know if you are being hit with a credit card surcharge?
We’ve answered more of your questions about the new credit card surcharge and where you will see it
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Our last article answering your credit card surcharge questions generated a lot of follow-ups, so we're back with more answers about the additional fees you could see when using your Visa or MasterCard.
Will businesses have to alert customers that the surcharge is being applied?
Businesses applying the surcharge must make it clear to customers they are doing so — and there's a strict protocol involved.
For bricks-and-mortar businesses, merchants will need to ensure they have a sign on the door indicating they intend to apply a surcharge for credit card transactions, said Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice president of national affairs and partnerships at the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB).
"In fact, we're creating some templates right now to help businesses to make sure they are complying with the rules," she said.
A second sign indicating the credit card surcharge must be present at the point of sale, which should also specify the amount that will be charged for using Visa or MasterCard.
In addition to the sign, the dollar amount of the surcharge should appear on the transaction receipt provided by the merchant to its customers, according to Luciana Brasil, a partner at Vancouver-based law firm Branch MacMaster, which worked on the class-action lawsuit that led to the settlement.
Online transactions should have a notice as you hit the checkout portion of the transaction before finalizing payment, explained Pohlmann. The surcharge, if applied on the online transaction, also appears on your receipt.
Some businesses have already notified customers of their intent to start applying a credit card surcharge, including telecom provider Telus. You won't see this in Quebec, however, because customers there are protected from the surcharge under the province's Consumer Protection Act.
Will the surcharge be added before or after taxes?
As per the recent settlement, the surcharge will be added before taxes, said Brasil.
When returning an item you've purchased, will the surcharge be refunded as well?
The short answer is yes.
If you were charged a surcharge fee during a purchase and you choose to return that purchase, you will be refunded the surcharge.
"A full refund requires a refund of the full surcharge, whereas a partial refund requires only a refund of the corresponding portion of the surcharge," explained Brasil.
Will all card companies be playing by the same rules?
At this moment, surcharging is only permitted with Visa and MasterCard, because they were the two companies involved in the class-action lawsuit. American Express and other credit cards were not part of the suit or the settlement.
"To the extent merchants wish to surcharge credit cards issued by any other credit card service provider, they should consult that provider and its rules to ensure that is permitted," said Brasil.