As this blog has touched upon before, surcharges are an important issue and part of the larger business strategy for some retailers, even though the practice is banned in some states. Michigan may be added to that list soon, as a bill championed by the state's Republican representative Jeff Farrington may result in companies being unable to apply fees to purchasers that use credit. While there is concern that using such additional charges may set a dangerous precedent and lead to fee inflation, the cost of POS credit card processing systems can make this seem a viable option to balancing expenses and maintaining a stable budget. Right now, the decision whether or not to do this rests with the store in question, and an article on Mlive reports that no surcharges like this seem to have been implemented yet.
The legislation in question is House Bill 4255, which would amend the extant Michigan Consumer Protection Act to outlaw these types of charges. Although stores in the area must currently by law have warning signs in their stores alerting shoppers to these sorts of fees where they exist, the potential for abuse appears to be enough of a concern to pass these rules now.
That same Mlive article quotes Representative Farrington as pursuing this ban in order to stem the effects of potentially mounting surcharges on consumers.
"The concern is that the use of additional consumer fees will increase dramatically in the long run as they have in other countries such as Australia and Great Britain," he said.
It's a difficult balance that must be maintained, but those that use card processing software can take this as an example of the worries on both sides of the issue and then, depending on local laws, craft an approach for their own business.