Jul 12, 2006

"Sorry, we do not accept credit or Visa cards"

Alan Hale sent me this picture from Wellington, with the following comment:


This is a small butcher in an arcade off the main street in Wellington.

Merchants in New Zealand don't have to pay a merchant service fee for eftpos debit cards, which he is obviously favouring over credit cards.

Note he specifies Visa, in a way that he may believe that it's separate to credit cards.


Of course, there are lots of smaller merchants all over the world that choose not to accept plastic at all. What is interesting here is that the merchant chooses which types of plastic to accept (i.e. debit cards with zero interchange fees) and rejects all others (i.e. credit cards). The merchant obviously has a payment terminal since he accepts debit cards, so it would be easy to accept credit cards as well. He clearly feels that refusing credit cards will not make him appear unfriendly to his customers.

The card associations' "honour all cards" rule prohibits merchants from discriminating in this way. The rule has been challenged in several countries that I am aware of, with courts systematically siding with merchants. I know this has happened in Australia, but I wasn't aware that New Zealand courts had also forced the associations to drop the rule. Are merchants feeling confident that they won't be pursued by the associations if they disregard the honour all cards rule?

1 comment:

Andrew G said...

There are literally thousands of smaller merchants in New Zealand and even some large ones such as McDonald's who accept EFTPOS debit cards but not shy away from credit cards. I think the "honour all cards" is by no means a standard government law, but rather a Visa imposed rule. If the acquirers, such as Paymark (ex ETSL) or ANZ in NZ don't particularly care about those rules then Visa/Mastercard can't do a hell of a lot. On the other hand, Paymark and ANZ don't care about credit cards because they charge issuers about 20-25c per transaction (flat), which is usually passed on to the cardholder... I guess this makes NZ quite different to the rest of the world, but then again you only have to go to the NTUC supermarket in Tg Pagar (Singapore) to witness the no-credit card/yes-debit card policy.