We look at claims Kettering newsagents are applying illegal card transaction charges

Card surcharges were made illegal in 2018

By Sam Wildman
Friday, 12th November 2021, 7:15 am
Card surcharges were banned in 2018
Card surcharges were banned in 2018

Allegations that a number of Kettering newsagents have been applying illegal charges for card transactions recently surfaced online.

The 'surcharge' practice - which saw retailers charge customers extra for paying with a bank card - was banned in 2018 to protect people from rip-off fees.

But it had been claimed that some convenience stores in the town were still doing it, charging up to 60p extra for a card transaction, with calls to boycott them.

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This week the Northants Telegraph visited 13 newsagents across the town, including three where it had been alleged they were applying illegal charges - Regent Stores and Gosai Stores, both in Regent Street, and Paul's Stop & Shop in Montagu Street.

On all 13 shop visits, the cashier behind the till said there was no charge to use a card.

Many had a minimum card spend of £2, £3 or £5, which is perfectly legal and commonplace in smaller shops to avoid a high margin of any small sale from being lost to the charges they incur for using the machines.

We found that one of the shops alleged to be applying illegal charges, Paul's Stop & Shop, had no card charge or minimum spend and our reporter was able to make a £1 purchase with a card.

The card charge ban is enforced by Trading Standards who have the power to take civil enforcement action against traders who breach the regulations. Any evidence should be reported to the relevant authorities.

A North Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: "If you would like to make a complaint about a business, report alleged criminal behaviour by a trader including scams, or talk to someone to obtain practical advice on your legal rights, please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service who are funded by the Government to carry out this work on behalf of all Trading Standards Services.

"They will inform us of any issues which potentially require further action or where they feel we need to provide further assistance."

The Citizens Advice consumer service can be contacted on 0808 223 1133.

When 'surcharging' was banned in 2018, Economic Secretary to the Treasury MP John Glen said: "It’s completely unfair for someone to be hit by a hidden fee just before they are about to make a purchase, so by scrapping these rip-off charges we are helping to give power back to the consumer.

"As we build a fairer society, this added transparency ensures buyers can make informed choices about how they spend their hard-earned money."