Retailers defy Bank Negara’s caution

PETALING JAYA: Retailers are pooh-poohing a Bank Negara caution that they are not to impose a surcharge for credit and debit card purchases.

A check by The Star at a popular electronics mall here showed that eight out of 13 merchants imposed surcharges for purchases with cards.

A worker at one of the outlets said a 2.5% surcharge was im­posed for credit card payments.

“Everyone else is doing it,’’ he replied when asked why his shop was charging for card payments.

“The most important thing is that customers know they are being charged extra,” he said.

Another merchant was of the view that as long as their customers were aware that the outlet was adding an extra 2% to their total bill, “then it is fine”.

“They know it so technically, we are not manipulating them,” he added.

On Wednesday, Bank Negara warned retailers against imposing the surcharge.

It said one of the reasons retailers imposed the surcharge was to recover the cost incurred by them when accepting card payments.

Merchants are typically charged a transaction fee, also known as a merchant discount rate (MDR).

Bank Negara said consumers could report merchants who imposed such charges to their respective banks or credit card issuers.

Meanwhile, travel and tour agencies expressed unhappiness with the prohibition of the surcharge, saying they could not absorb the MDR due to low margins.
“It is well known that travel agencies and tour companies operate on low margins, unlike retail outlets in shopping malls,” said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

“As such, a surcharge has to be imposed on credit card payments just to recover the MDR charged by banks.”

Tan said travel agencies and tour companies did not include the MDR in the pricing of their packages as that would be unfair to customers who paid by cash, cheque or online payment.

Tan said most tour packages were purchased weeks or months ahead, giving customers time to make payment online or by cheque.

“Few would take the trouble to go to a tour company and pay by credit card. It is fair that they pay for the MDR instead of getting all customers to pay more,” he said.

Tan urged Bank Negara to consider abolishing the MDR or reducing the rate charged by banks.

“This would benefit consumers and businesses immensely and spur the growth of cashless payment in the country,” he added.