Or more like a muddle, in my case. Dr Glyn Reece sent me a link to The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges), which is for guidance purposes. He says: “The thing to remember is that IF you are taking payment by card for essential utilities (section 8.1) you can charge a fee to cover ‘real’ processing costs.”
I read this 12-page document and the cross-referencing in section 8 to Regulation 6 and Regulation 4, etc, made only one thing plain: this is a lawyers’ charter.
Meanwhile, others have been casting about for glimmers. Tony Scott emailed: “Any ‘loyal’ member of a symbol group should be able to achieve at least 50% reduction in the 24-30p bank charge by joining that symbol group’s card scheme.”
And from a retailer requesting anonymity comes this: “Shop round for your service provider, yearly, and don’t worry about the costs. It costs you a lot more to pay cash into the bank and is a lot safer.
“I process approx £100,000 a month through my card terminal. This costs me approx £240 including terminal rental. I have never charged for card payments, have no minimum transaction value, and take cards for PayPoint, lottery and so on.
“I am aware that I lose money on some of the PayPoint transactions due to the stupidly low commission rates. However, in the past five years I have never had to pay a penny in cash into the bank, and have an entirely electronic banking system. For this I pay £6.50 per month.”
Last financial year for paying in about £1.5m, his total charges were just over £3,000. The cheapest deal he was offered for banking that volume of cash was 0.95%, which would be the thick end of £15K.
He concludes that being charged £60/week to deposit the money is still annoying, but what would the time spent counting and depositing the cash cost?
And here was an angle I hadn’t thought of. Harendra Bhatt, who trades as Universal News at Highbury and Islington tube station in North London, says: “Now the government has abolished bank charges, in my opinion we can make payment to Smiths News by cards and by law they cannot levy any charge. Until now Smiths News used to charge us for cards payment and never accept BACS payment. Now retailers have a choice.”
I can think of more cynical outcomes.