PETALING JAYA: A consumer activist has urged the government to re-look surcharges imposed on debit and credit card transactions, saying the additional cost of using the increasingly popular mode of payment is unfair to users.
The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (Cassa) president Dr Jacob George said this was a pertinent issue as many consumers use these cards instead of cash to make payments.
Recently, Deputy Finance Minister Othman Aziz said the government will not abolish interest charges imposed on debit and credit card transactions.
“It could encourage excessive spending and a general lack of discipline among credit card holders,” he said when responding to a question in the Dewan Rakyat.
He was responding to a question by Kuala Pilah MP Hasan Malek, who asked if the government had any joint programme with the central bank or local banking industry to abolish surcharges imposed by retailers for payments made using debit and credit cards.
Othman said there was no need to emulate the UK’s move to outlaw such fees.
George said some consumers were using credit cards because they have no “disposable income” and not because they are using it for fun or to buy everything they saw.
He said this particular group used credit cards because they don’t have money.
“Cassa has received several inquiries on the UK move to remove surcharges,” he said, adding that the government needs to do an in-depth study on the matter.
“We should have more friendly consumer laws and regulations.”
Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) vice-president Yusof Abdul Rahman said the government needs to liaise closely with the central bank to ease problems faced by the public.
He said in an era where people are being encouraged not to use cash, it was important for the government to see what could ease people’s suffering or needs.
“If there are no surcharges imposed on debit and credit card transactions, this will definitely encourage people to use credit cards as a mode of payment.”