A Coloradoan Perk
Did you ever imagine that safety from card surcharging would be one of the many benefits of living in Colorado? In 2013, it was added to the long list of Coloradoan perks. Credit card surcharging in Colorado is illegal for businesses. Colorado is 1 of 7 states that have protections against these laws. Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Texas are safe for consumers as well, to some extent…
The Government & Education Payment Program Service Fee
The law against surcharging in the 10 protected states does not apply to service fees for a government authority or education institution. You may be wondering, “Why does the government get to surcharge while local businesses and non-profits cannot?” Simply put, when you are the one making laws, you can put in whatever exclusions you want to reserve for your benefit. There are some specific rules that government bodies and schools need to follow to abide by this program: See the Service Fee Rules (pg 10-11)
Different from surcharge fees and service fees, convenience fees are for merchants who offer an alternative payment channel, such as mail orders, telephone orders, or e-commerce sales. Essentially, these alternative payment channels are offered as a convenience to consumers so that they don’t have to drive to the physical site of the business to pay with cash.
Most merchants today already offer these payment channels and it’s expected as part of the consumer experience, but the convenience fee program does not allow you to charge convenience fees for in person transactions when the credit card is present at a payment terminal. The biggest known perpetuator of convenience fees is TicketMaster. Sure, you can bring cash on the day of a concert and hope they have seats left, but it really is a convenience to arrive at the show with ticket in hand. See the Convenience Fee Rules (pg. 10)
Some businesses will offer a discount on the purchase if it is made with cash, check, or some other non-electric fund transfer. It sounds unfair because it is so similar to credit card surcharging in Colorado, but the expression of the lowered pricing makes it legal because consumers won’t be surprised with add-on fees at checkout. Offering cash or check discount incentives does not break the law if the discount is offered and made aware to all prospective buyers clearly and prior to any purchase.
Debit cards in any state are not allowed to be surcharged at all.
What can you do about it?
Regardless of your residency, if you experience credit card surcharging in Colorado, you can be refunded the whole surcharge. Additionally, companies can face up to a $1,000 violation per offense. You can report a complaint through the Better Business Bureau and the CO Attorney General. If you want to keep from being surcharged immediately at the register, make sure you notify businesses that it is illegal. Don’t be bullied by them. Stand up for your rights.
Stay educated and read the law as it is written:
Colo. Rev. Stat. §5-2-212
“(1) Except as otherwise provided in §§24-19.5-103 (3) and 29-11.5-103 (3), C.R.S., no seller or lessor in any sales or lease transaction or any company issuing credit or charge cards may impose a surcharge on a holder who elects to use a credit or charge card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means. A surcharge is any additional amount imposed at the time of the sales or lease transaction by the merchant, seller, or lessor that increases the charge to the buyer or lessee for the privilege of using a credit or charge card. For purposes of this section, charge card includes those cards pursuant to which unpaid balances are payable on demand.”
Credit Card Surcharging in Colorado: You deserve an explanation
As a member of the Better Business Buereau, we highly value transparency and truthful education with our clients. You deserve to understand what fees are legally allowed to be passed to cardholders and how to spot an unlawful company performing unethical credit card surcharging in Colorado.
Does your current processor educate you and treat you like we do? Please feel free to visit our blog page to learn more or post your story in the comments section below!