Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

February 4, 2013

Shoppers should give themselves some credit

Consumers are urged to be vigilant with their purchasing and how they do it, since as of Jan. 28, Indiana became one of 40 states that are allowing retailers to charge a surcharge on VISA and MasterCard purchases.

Merchants have the option of charging an additional 1.5 to 4 percent on purchases made with the cards to cover the costs of the fees the companies are charging them.

"It's been very quiet, to be honest, considering that it's a huge deal," said Annette Roy, vice president of membership development of Financial Center Credit Union. "There hasn't been a lot of play on it. What happened was the credit card companies looked at the fine print of what the rules said and it was vague whether or not retailers were allowed to pass the fees onto consumers. Basically, it came down to say that the rules are vague and if (retailers) want to pass the charge onto the consumer, they can."

She hopes to get the word out so consumers can be on the lookout for legislated signage that would require any retailers that are charging the fees to post signs at the entrance, point of sale, on receipts, and online purchases so customers can know what they're potentially getting themselves into.

VISA released a statement following the decision that they had historically not permitted retailer surcharging, but the merchants who filed the lawsuit demanded that provision be a part of the settlement.

Discover and American Express settled out of court with retailers.

The surcharge does not apply to VISA or MasterCard credit card cash advances, debit uses, or pre-paid cards.

Most retailers have been mum on whether they will take advantage of the surcharge option, but Walmart, McDonald's, and Target officials have all said that they would not.

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