ACS has welcomed government plans to ban above-cost card surcharges, but has warned about the burden on retailers if introduced early. 

As part of its submission to the Department for Business’ consultation on card surcharges, ACS has highlighted that small businesses would be disproportionately impacted by the early introduction of regulations to ban above-cost card surcharge. 

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “ACS supports measures to improve transparency and remove unfair costs for consumers, however, the consultation does not recognise the many businesses which would be unnecessarily affected if these changes were to be brought in ahead of the June 2014 deadline.”

The consultation proposes the early implementation of an EU Directive, due to come into force in June 2014, which will prevent retailers charging above-cost levels for payment options such as credit and debit cards.

An Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation in 2011 showed that there were problems with some companies operating confusing policies and charging excessive amounts, however this was primarily seen in online or distance sales, and in certain sectors such as the travel industry.

ACS has highlighted that businesses in sectors with typically low transaction values where the businesses primarily carry out over-the-counter transactions, excessive card surcharges are not imposed. In addition, any charges that a customer may incur are clearly signposted. 

Lowman added: “The OFT inquiry last year showed that convenience stores and similar businesses are not the cause of the problem that the government is seeking to address, therefore we are calling for them to ensure that regulations are proportionate and tackle the source of the problem, rather than penalising all businesses.”