MADISON, Wis. (1/29/13)--Retailers' new "checkout fees" on credit card use took effect Sunday, and the date did not go unnoticed by dozens of the nation's top mass media or by consumers using social media to express their displeasure.
News Now counted 27 stories across the country about the ability of retailers in 40 states to charge the fees under the terms of a $7.2 billion settlement reached between credit card companies and merchants in July. Most media reported that retailers can impose between 1.5% and 4% of the cost of the purchase and add it to the credit card bill.
The Credit Union National Association is monitoring the impact of the surcharge. (See today's News Now story, CUNA watches for credit card surcharge impact.)
Among the more prominent media were: The Wall Street Journal, FOX & Friends, ABC News, NBC News, Fox News, CBS, CNN Money, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, The Daily Republic, and The Motley Fool. Media in major cities such as New York; Washington D.C.; Atlanta; Boston; Cleveland; Seattle; and Atlanta also published or aired reports. Media in West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Nebraska, Alabama, Kentucky, and Illinois carried stories on Sunday and Monday.
Most stories warned consumers that if they used a credit card, they should check for the fee. Some said to shop at businesses that don't charge the fees.
An advocacy group, Consumer Action, is widely quoted warning shoppers to be on the lookout for the fees. "Our advice is to tell them you don't like the fee and this makes you want to take your business elsewhere," said Ruth Susswein, deputy director of national priorities for the group (NBCnews.com Jan. 27).
Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at Credit.com, told ABC News she expects the number of merchants introducing the fee will be small at first. They likely will be smaller merchants or service providers such as accountants and massage therapists. She too advised consumers to tell the merchant if they object to the charge.
Consumers already were expressing anger about the fees on the news outlets' Facebook pages and story comment sections. Some called the fees "outrageous" and one suggested that consumers "boycott all the stores that want to charge" a fee.
Some merchants also were distancing themselves from the fees. NBC reported that Home Depot, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart said they have no plans to introduce a credit card surcharge. Several smaller companies used social media to reassure consumers they are not introducing the fees.
The surcharge is supposed to equal the actual cost of processing the credit card transaction and can vary, based on the type of card used. Ten states have outlawed the surcharges: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.