Calls for Action

Statement by the Consumers Association of Canada

Statement by the Consumers Association of Canada Regarding the Competition Bureau's Challenge of Visa and MasterCard

Consumers will be the big losers under the Competition Bureau's plan 

(December 17, 2010)

Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers Association of Canada, has made the following statement in response to today's decision of the Competition Bureau to challenge two rules of Visa and MasterCard: "The Consumers Association of Canada is extremely disappointed in today's decision by the Competition Bureau to challenge two critical consumer protection measures. This is a disappointing day for Canadian consumers. The Competition Bureau appears to have abandoned our interests in favour of the well-organized merchant lobby.

Allowing merchants to surcharge on credit card purchases will expose consumers to potentially predatory practices by merchants. For example, in Australia where surcharging was forced by the regulator, the result has been extremely negative for consumers. A recent report by the Australian consumer group Choice showed that consumers are now facing surcharges of up to 10% in some cases. The report also found that some merchants have embraced surcharges as a new revenue stream. The report highlighted that surcharging was most prevalent in situations where paying by credit card is a necessity. For example, Australia's largest domestic airline now imposes surcharges as high as $30.00 per ticket.

If the threat of facing surcharges is not bad enough, the Bureau apparently now wants to take away the honour all cards rule. This will create chaos in the marketplace for consumers because they will no longer have any guarantee that their credit card will be accepted when they get to the check-out counter. If a merchant advertises that they accept a Visa credit card they should have to accept any Visa credit card that a consumer carries. Allowing merchants to decline individual consumers' cards would create confusion and frustration for consumers. 

Merchants across Canada have been instrumental in driving consumers to use electronic payments - and in many cases offer no other alternative - and now they want consumers to pay extra to do so and/or dictate which particular Visa or MasterCard credit card is acceptable to them."

For more information:
Bruce Cran, President
Consumers Association of Canada