8:56 AM, 27th October 2011, About 10 years ago
Letting agents are cashing in on debit and credit card surcharges on services for landlords and tenants, warns consumer champion Which?
Researchers checked out 20 leading estate agents based on branch network sizes and found some charge for debit card payments, while 13 charged for credit card transactions.
The survey focused on card charges for tenants and found Andrews, Knight Frank, Foxtons and Badger Holdings levy a fee for processing debit card payments.
Which? Found 13 letting agents charged for handling credit card payments. Andrews charged 5% when the process fee averages just 1% – 2% of the transaction value.
With average rents at £713 per month according to the latest statistics from LSL Property Services, the country’s biggest letting agent, a 5% fee equates to an extra £50 on the cost of a deposit on a buy to let property.
Foxtons and Knight Frank charged 0.5% for tenants paying by debit card – around 50p on the average deposit even though the cost of dealing with the transaction is about 10p.
Which? made a super complaint on behalf of consumers to the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year about firms ripping off customers paying by card with unreasonable fees.
The OFT has proposed that debit card surcharges be banned.
A simple amendment from the Treasury to the Payment Services Regulations could accomplish this, but so far, the government has failed to act.
Instead, the government may wait until 2013 when the European Union Consumer Rights Directive is implemented. The directive includes proposals to limit card charges.
At the time of the complaint, the major concern over hidden card charges was for passengers booking flights and holidays online.
Which? accused airlines and holiday firms of quoting misleading headline prices to tempt customers to book, when they found out that surcharges and other fees applied to their purchase.
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