On the 13th January, Theresa May heralded the banning of debit and credit card charges. Mrs May and her party tried, in vain, to falsely claim that this was down to a Conservative initiative. It is in fact part of EU law. As such, you should not be charged for using your card anywhere in the EU.
From today we're banning hidden charges for paying with your credit or debit card – a move that will help millions of people avoid rip-off fees when spending their hard-earned money. pic.twitter.com/EEk5jxdk7R
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) January 13, 2018
When the new Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, then repeated this claim on the Andrew Marr Show, he was challenged and asked.
Mr Marr: ‘Is that true?’ [referring to the tweet]Mr Lewis: ‘Well the government’s bringing that ban through, it’s something that’s coming through across the European Union.’
Mr Marr: ‘Where has it come from?’
Mr Lewis: ‘It’s coming through across the European Union.’
Mr Marr: ‘It’s an EU directive.’
Mr Lewis: ‘Which of course we are currently part of,’
Andrew Marr then referred to this tweet from Guy Verhofstadt:
Refreshing to see so many embracing the benefits of EU legislation! The ban on irritating credit card surcharges applies today – good news for consumers across the EU. #WeAreEurope 🇪🇺 https://t.co/D4N2p1dHbJ
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) January 13, 2018
Mr Marr: ‘Slightly embarrassing though isn’t it?’
Mr Lewis: ‘No it’s not,’
Southampton University’s Liberal Democrat President commenting on the story, said: ‘This is a true embarrassment for the Conservatives, they have been caught red-handed lying to the British people, trying to claim responsibility for a fantastic EU directive.’
The effects of these debit and credit card charges were widespread. You should now no longer be charged for deciding to use your credit or debit card online, on the phone, or in person. This includes the SUSU shop and other union services where the charge for using a card on purchases under £5 incurred a £0.15p card charge.
At the SUSU 2017 AGM, the effect of no longer being able to charge the £0.15p card charge was debated. Three options were put to the AGM for one to be voted on, these being:
Option 1) ‘Absorb the cost with no change to pricing.’
The argument behind this option stated:
‘We estimate that the Union incurs approximately £20,000 in card fees on transactions under £5 every year, and to absorb this cost will mean a reduction in the amount of surplus that Union Services (the part of the Union that runs the Shop, Bars and Catering) can contribute to other parts of the Union. Savings would therefore have to be found in other areas of the Union, for example grants to clubs and societies.’
This was the option that was eventually approved by the AGM, with 70 votes for the option, and 49 against.
Option 2) ‘Manage the increased cost by increasing the prices.’
This option failed by 82 votes against, to 35 votes in favour.
Option 3) ‘Do not accept card payments under £5, requiring cash payments only.’
This option failed, with 88 votes cast against, to only 37 votes in favour.
The three choices highlight the 3 main choices all companies and organisations are now having to make. It’s thought that most will make the same choice as SUSU, or increase the price of items to accommodate the cost of using a card. The federation of small businesses has said that ‘many small firms will struggle to absorb the costs associated with card payments’. Others, like HMRC, have stopped taking all personal credit card payments (although they have said they will still let you pay your tax with a debit card), as in option 3 considered by SUSU.
If you have been charged for using your card since the law change, MoneySavingExpert.com have said that you should contact the company, complain, and ask for a refund on the card charge. If they refuse you should contact Trading Standards.