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Readers Respond: Swipe fees at the point of sale

One of the provisions of a proposed settlement with Visa and Mastercard over interchange fees is that the cards will change their rules to allow retailers to begin charging customers a fee -- 1% to 3%, for example -- to cover the swipe fee charged by the card companies. Most readers say they are in no hurry to alienate customers with an extra fee. 

“This will become a competitive advantage issue with leading retailers using the absence of any fees against any that charge the fees, or providing no fee to Frequent Shopper card holders. A useful statistic would be a compilation by IRI or Nielsen of cash to card ratios by basket size to better understand the impact of any charges.

“One sees many online sellers dropping or discounting shipping fees as an analog to this potential set of charges.

“Net: any additional fees will disappear within six months.”
— David D Harvison

“I think the retailer should add the fees as a surcharge. I know for we, that would encourage me to pay cash and likely most other consumers who have the cash. It would serve three purposes.

• "Cause pause to people about building credit card debt;

• "Hopefully reduce sell price on goods where the bank fees are already built into the cost of the goods; and

• "Potentially cause banks to reduce fees if they want people to use their cards.”
— Greg

"At sometime in the future you will see this fee being charged, but I sure don’t want to be the first to start it."
— Merle P. Higgins

"Business is just too competitive to add 3% to a posted price at the time of the transaction. While I suspect that many merchants will offer a cash incentive, it is more likely that, over time, "price creep" will take place with upward adjustments in the 2% to 2.5% range, mitigating the swipe fee burden. Sooner rather than later, this will become a non-issue."
— Kurt Markshausen

"The question is not whether to pass along the fee, or absorb. Retailers should have been building it into the pricing structure all along. You know the percentage of CC payments, and how much in fees you get charged. Everyone was in the same boat, so everyone had to incorporate the fee into their prices. I know Kroger was beind this change in large part. However, I would not want to be the first one in town to add a fee for paying with a credit card.

æThe first time it happens to me, I will just leave my grocery cart, and walk out. These fees do not need to be itemized on a customers receipt. What's next, $2.99 for milk, plus 3% for CC fee, plus 1% for wearing out the floors, 1% for electricity, 2% because I choose to go to a person cashier instead of a self-serve checkout. Don't itemize your cost of doing business onto the customer; just build it into the price of the items. The first ones to try it will lose a lot of customers, I for one do not want to take that chance, or put a 'bad taste' in anyones mouth, once that is done, it can not be cleaned back to the way it was, never happens."
— Rick B.

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