PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Retailers Association has called on authorities to act against retailers who continue to impose a surcharge on payments made with debit or credit cards.
Council member Ameer Ali Mydin, who is managing director of the Mydin chain of hypermarkets, said it was wrong for any retailer to pass the transaction fee, known as the merchant discount rate (MDR), on to consumers.
He also urged the relevant authorities to “punish” such retailers.
“The credit card companies or banks, for example, can revoke a retailer’s credit or debit card payment facility.”
Ameer was commenting on Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) recent statement that retailers cannot impose a surcharge on debit or credit card payments.
The central bank said this was in line with its Payment Card Reform Network and under the rules of international card schemes such as Visa and Mastercard.
“Retailers must see the MDR as part of the overall cost of operating a business. When you slap a surcharge on an item, you are misleading consumers on the price of a product,” Ameer said.
He added that some retailers imposed a 2% surcharge over the actual price of a product, even though they were in turn charged an MDR of 1.5% or even 0.5% for payments made using debit cards.
“Traders should look at the big picture and understand that the use of credit and debit cards makes it easier for customers to buy big-ticket items. If they feel the MDR for credit cards is high, then they should encourage payments using debit cards which have a lower MDR charge.
“However, it all boils down to enforcement. We know it is tough because there are so many small retailers but this is where the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry must take the lead.”
Ameer suggested the setting up of a hotline under the ministry or BNM, where consumers could make a complaint if they are forced to pay a surcharge by a retailer.
Following the release of the BNM statement, FMT did a random survey at a shopping mall in Petaling Jaya and found at least two telecommunication shops still imposing the surcharge.
Malaysia Consumer Movement president Darshan Singh Dhillon said it wasn’t enough for BNM to tell the public that retailers cannot impose a surcharge on payments using debit or credit cards.
“It is time to act on retailers who don’t play by the rules. Remove their debit and credit card facility. This will send a strong message to other errant retailers.”
Darshan also called for BNM to make it easier for consumers to report retailers who impose a surcharge on debit or credit card payments.
“Consumers too could play their part. They should submit evidence, like receipts, which can prove that they paid a surcharge over the price of a product, and from there BNM can act.
“However, BNM must update the complainants and the public on what action has been taken so consumers know they aren’t wasting their time.”