Europcar in ACCC bungle over alleged excessive surcharges

Europcar in ACCC bungle over alleged excessive surcharges

The ACCC has launched proceedings against Europcar in the Federal Court, alleging the car rental service has been hitting its customers with excessive credit and debit card charges.

The court will hear that Europcar customers who used Visa or MasterCards during July and August 2017 incurred excessive surcharge fees, above what it cost the company to accept those payments.

According to the ACCC, the amount overcharged by the company ranged from 0.18 per cent to as much as 0.65 per cent, and Europcar did not reduce its overpriced surcharges even after being notified by its bank of the actual cost to accept these payments.

"The alleged conduct by Europcar in relation to its surcharge rates is particularly concerning, given we will allege that it was well aware of its own cost of acceptance from at least July 2017," says ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

"Businesses must not charge customers more than it costs them to process a card payment.

"The ACCC's action serves as a warning that the ACCC is paying close attention to those businesses who seek to overcharge customers making payments by credit or debit cards."

The excessive payment law, which states that businesses can only pass on to customers the costs incurred when processing a payment, first came into effect on 1 September 2016.

The law requires that banks and other payment processors provide businesses with statements that clearly detail the cost of acceptance for each payment scheme.

The ACCC's action against Europcar marks the first time a company has been taken to court under the excessive surcharging provisions.

However, it's not the ACCC's first run-in with the business.

In April 2016, the Federal Court found that several terms in the 2013 Europcar standard rental agreement were unfair.

The court ordered Europcar to pay a penalty of $100,000 for making false or misleading representations about consumers' liability in the event of vehicle damage.

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