Thursday, 11 January 2018

Charging consumers extra - how will PSD2 be enforced?

The rules of the Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) are to start applying in the Member States as of January 13th. A few days before the implementation deadline this Directive is already a cause of controversy in some Member States. Namely, one of its major achievements in consumer protection was the adoption of the ban on all surcharges, however small, related to consumers paying with their debit and credit cards. This didn't however mean that traders and service providers would not be allowed to ask for any extra charges from consumers, e.g. booking fees would still be acceptable when consumers bought a cinema ticket - but only provided that this booking fee would apply irrespective of the payment method chosen by the consumer. Of course, it was anticipated that consumer goods and services' prices may increase slightly as a consequence of traders passing the costs of operating debit and credit cards on to consumers. Another prediction was that some businesses may stop accepting debit and credit cards instead, though this likely would not be sustainable in the coming years with the amount of cashless transactions increasing. What was not included in the official predictions, but is unsurprising from the practical point of view, is that traders and service providers could simply rename payment charges as other charges. BBC reported on Just Eat - a popular takeaway food app - asking consumers to pay a 50p service charge on all its orders, which new charge unsurprisingly is of the same amount as the previously charged 50p surcharge on debit and credit card payments by this company (Just Eat criticised over service charge). Obviously, such actions by traders and service providers could be seen as circumventing the new law, but would the enforcement agencies actually step in and demand the removal of these new charges as hidden payment surcharges? This remains to be seen.

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