Consumers should report extra credit card fees
Last week on this newscast we alerted holders of Visa cards that the charges on their foreign purchases were being inflated by one percent and that every U.S. dollar they spent was costing them a total of two dollars and eight cents Belize. Tonight we've got news for all credit card holders who have been subjected--at home or abroad--to the imposition by merchants of a so-called "credit card fee." These charges--usually around five percent--are levied by unscrupulous resorts or business houses on purchases that are made with credit cards as opposed to cash. The additional fee is supposed to compensate the vendor for the commission--usually around three percent--that the business must pay the credit card company for its service. The problem is that the imposition of such a fee is in total violation of the merchant's contract with the credit card company. So what do you do if you encounter a merchant that insists on tacking on an additional five percent? First, question the charge. If they refuse to reverse it, then request an original receipt that lists the actual cost of the goods plus the additional five percent charge. The credit card receipt--the one that you sign--will likely show the entire amount as a single charge, so make sure you are given both. As soon as you return home to your local bank, see the credit card manager. At that point the bank will initiate a hold on the charge--meaning you don't have to pay it--and will then investigate the matter. If and when they find your allegation to be true, the merchant will not be paid the five percent fee and your bill will be officially adjusted. Remember, however, the key is to get that original receipt; without it you may have some problems. It should be noted that most of the complaints regarding this practice involve businesses in Mexico. We do know, however, several Belizean resorts, restaurants, and dive shops that persist in defrauding their customers and hope that both the banks and B.T.B. will take action to stop the unjust practice.