Statement from the Consumers' Association of Canada on Anti-Consumer Bill Before the Senate

OTTAWA, May 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers Association of Canada (CAC), released the following statement on the eve of the Senate Banking Committee beginning its study of Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Payment Card Networks Act (credit card acceptance fees), which is sponsored by Senator Pierrette Ringuette. The Bill seeks government intervention in the market to regulate the price merchants pay for credit card acceptance.

"The CAC is disappointed that Parliament is debating a bill that seeks to enrich merchants at the expense of consumers. The fees retailers pay to accept credit cards are a normal cost of doing business that merchants make a conscious decision to incur to improve their customer experience.  Merchants continually downplay the benefits of accepting credit cards while seeking measures like Bill S-202 that would dump those costs onto their customers. 

Wherever governments have caved to merchant lobbying and intervened in the credit card market to lower acceptance costs, no savings were passed on to consumers. Instead, retailers pocketed the savings. Worse still, consumers were faced with higher fees for credit cards and other banking services as money was taken out of the whole system. 

The CAC feels it is time to remind Parliament that retailers and their various lobbying associations do not speak for consumers. Merchants seeking to improve their bottom line should focus on customer service – not lobbying for measures that will hurt the people who keep them in business. 

Also, merchants still refuse to use the tools at their disposal to address acceptance costs, such as offering a discount to consumers willing to pay with cash or debit. Our polling shows 70% of consumers would be likely to pay with cash or debit instead of using a credit card if offered a discount by the merchant. However, merchants are not offering that, even though it is a solution that could easily be implemented, does not require government intervention, and would avoid alienating customers. 

It is time merchants drop their campaign to impose anti-consumer policies on Canadians, and the Senate can send a strong message to that effect by rejecting Bill S-202."     

SOURCE: Consumers' Association of Canada

For further information: Bruce Cran, President, Consumers Association of Canada, 604-418-8359

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