Fitness First Australia has paid a $12,600 penalty to the ACCC for breaching the excessive surcharge provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act.
Fitness First had imposed a 50 cent surcharge on $46 fortnightly memberships paid using credit and debit cards, between December 2017 and April 2018.
This represented a surcharge of about 1.09%, which exceeded its actual cost (0.81%) to process such payments by about 34%.
Here’s what the ACCC said:-
“While there is nothing to prevent businesses from imposing flat fee surcharges… they must ensure the surcharge amount does not exceed their acceptance cost for any given transaction……… The onus is on businesses that choose to impose surcharges to get it right”.
This case reflects the growing trend of authorities to clamp down on businesses that try to charge a ‘ballpark’ processing fee, instead of one that just recoups the transaction cost.