CRTC Says Telus Credit Card Fee Decision Now Coming in December
According to a report from The Globe and Mail, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is taking a closer look at Telus’s proposed credit card processing fee and has delayed its decision to December.
Back in August, Telus asked the CRTC for approval to start charging customers an additional 1.5% on all credit card payments to “recover” processing costs. Telus had originally hoped for the fee to go into effect on Monday.
The CRTC was supposed to issue its decision by last Wednesday, but Telus’s proposed surcharge has been met with significant opposition from the Canadian masses. According to a database on the CRTC’s website, the watchdog has received more than 4,300 letters — or “interventions,” as it calls them — from the public over the credit card fee, most of them negative.
Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator told Telus in a letter on Thursday that it needs more time to mull over its application. The CRTC said its decision on the matter could be delayed until December 6.
“As of the time of this filing, there are 4,300 public comments. Tariff applications typically attract 0-10 public comments,” the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a consumer advocacy group, said in a September 7 submission.
The PIAC examined 1,449 of the 4,300 interventions. It found that 27% of commenters felt that the credit card processing fee was about adding to Telus’s profitability, 23% expressed concerns that the government was allowing telecom companies to charge too much, and 21% cited general concerns about consumer affordability.
Until this month, Canadian businesses weren’t allowed to pass credit card processing fees, which average 1.4% for each transaction, to customers. That changed with the culmination of a protracted legal battle between small businesses and credit card companies. Telus is by far the largest company to say it would pass on credit card processing fees to customers.
The telecom giant responded to the interventions, contending that criticism about it being a profitable company was misplaced and that the issue at hand was whether or not the proposed fee was reasonable.
Last month, Telus argued before the CRTC that charging customers a processing fee for bill payments made through credit cards is “just and reasonable.” Telus has said that customers can avoid the fee by simply paying with a debit card or through a chequing account.
“An avoidable surcharge such as proposed by Telus will both help with the recovery of the direct costs imposed on a credit-card transaction, and will incent customers to elect to use lower cost payment methods,” Telus said in a response filed with the CRTC. “The purpose is not to generate more revenues, but to help limit and recover costs.”
Telus also said that the surcharge would help contain costs since transaction fees would no longer be hidden in the company’s prices.