7 August 2012

Namibia: Retailers Warned On Extra Surcharges

Windhoek — The Payment Association of Namibia (PAN) and the Bankers Association of Namibia (BAN) have threatened to take legal action against merchants who add additional surcharges to the total value purchased by customers using debit/credit cards.

PAN warned that legal action can also be taken against retailers who impose a minimum amount on purchased goods as the threshold for accepting debit and credit purchases.

"These practices have a negative impact on consumers and are in direct violation of VISA International Operating Regulations," the payment association said in a statement.

VISA International Operating Regulations outline various principles that govern issues of pricing and fees and the role of merchants worldwide.

Some retailers require a customer to purchase items valued at a specific amount to accept debit and credit cards, while certain retailers charge an additional amount, which is usually a percentage of the total bill, for customers using debit or credit cards to pay for goods.

BAN and PAN encourage individuals to pay for goods and services with their debit or credit cards, since it is a safe and convenient method to shop. Penalising consumers for use of payment cards is not only in contravention of card operating rules, but it unfairly shifts the cost of electronic payments onto the consumer, noted PAN in a media statement issued on Monday.

"The public is, therefore, encouraged to report any non-compliance to PAN," it stated.

BAN chairperson Christo de Vries said merchants should treat all debit and credit card payments like any other method of payment, without additional costs added to the value and they should honour valid debit and credit cards in their acceptance category, "regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase."

PAN was established through an Act of Parliament to manage the National Payments System, and to ensure compliance of the local payment system in tandem with the international card operating rules and regulations.

"Therefore, it is critical that acquirers and merchants comply with all card operating rules and regulations set by PAN to protect the integrity of the payments systems," said PAN.

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