The most ‘popular’ subject on the helpline in the past fortnight has been the new directive that says you can no longer charge for taking debit or credit cards. You asked are there no loopholes? Not that I can see. It wasn’t fun telling more than half a dozen of you (so far) the bad news.
A couple of you suggested a ‘service charge’. Jayesh Patel, who was the subject of my cartoon slot last issue, said he had had an email from a theatre saying that they would now be charging a service charge for all transactions.
I did some quick research and got this from MoneySavingExpert: “Companies will still be able to add booking or admin fees as long as they also apply to other forms of payment.”
In other words you would have to charge for taking cash as well! That won’t go down well, will it?
So many of you mentioned taking cash only for PayPoint transactions that I asked PP for its take on the new law and this was the reply. “PP is a cash-only service. It has always been at the discretion of a retailer as to whether they accept payment by card for PP transactions.
“We recommend retailers follow all government and trade body advice re card payments and surcharging. We’ve been communicating regularly with our retailers in the run-up to the changes, pointing towards this advice.”
Then I got a call from Mukesh Patel from his Londis at Roehampton, South-west London. He was paying 24-30p on average at his bank for card transactions, adding up to between £600-£700 a month (and that’s without accepting cards for Oyster, PayPoint or Camelot).
“If this law applies to everyone,” he says, “why can’t the law be applied to the bank?”
I thought that was such a stonking question that the only thing I could think to suggest was for Mukesh to ask his MP. He said he would.
So when I spoke to Gurdev Singh immediately afterwards at his Linskill Store in Newcastle, I suggested the same thing. He came back soon after to say that he had already left a message with his MP’s office. He’s going to report back.
So, a plea to all of you…pester your MP on the subject. Ask why the bank is able to recoup its costs and you are not. (Although I think I know what their loophole is: they charge you fees for taking your cash, too.)