2009-02-04

Know Your Rights When Using Your Credit Card

As the economy collapses around us, and people are struggling to keep their jobs, many want to use credit cards when cash flow is tight. So you get to the store to buy a gallon of milk for you family and pull out your credit card. Or you stop by a neighborhood watering hole for a drink to relax your nerves, and you pull out your credit card. The merchant looks at you and points to a sign that says "$10 minimum for credit cards", or one that says "$2 surcharge on all credit card purchases."

Too many times people will say darn (or other words not fit for publication) and walk away. You do not have to. Each of the above scenarios is expressly prohibited in their agreements with the credit card companies. In fact, if you report them doing this, they risk being fined by the companies or losing the right to accept credit cards entirely.

Why am I posting this? Because just this morning we tried to pay a medical bill on the phone using a Visa. It was a $6.44 cent bill, and they refused to take the card because the bill was below $10. I argued the point with the billing services manager who would not budge, even though I explained that I could take the time to report them.

30 minutes later she called back to apologize. She had called VISA directly and found out what they were doing (and had been doing for some time now) was in violation of their agreement.

So do not be afraid to stand up for your rights when choosing to use a credit card. If you want more information about this, or want to file a report when it happens to you, see the VISA web site for information. You can find out how to report for other credit card companies here.

Yes, I generally cut small mom and pop shops some slack as they are struggling too, but everyone is struggling and the rules are there for a purpose (albeit usually to make the credit card companies money).

3 comments:

Adrian said...

The surcharges are permitted by law and by some newer agreements.

Christopher Byrne said...

Not if you talk to Visa....it may be on a case by -case basis. Can you give some examples?

Meldon said...

Maybe they're permitted by law, but not by the particular contractual agreement held by many shop-owners?

At any rate, it's good to know if up against a faceless bureaucracy that's causing a fuss.