'Excessive' surcharges to be banned
YOU cannot escape a European Union Directive.
It's a kind of prescription for law. Once adopted, member states usually have two or three years to change their domestic legal systems in order to achieve the aims set out in the prescription. That is, 'to implement the directive'.
The idea is to harmonise law across the EU.
One such is the Consumer Rights Directive. We have to implement it by the end of this year and bring its provisions into force by the middle of next.
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But….it has been announced that we are to bring in one aspect early.
This is good news. From April 6 it will be illegal for sellers to impose 'excessive payment surcharges'. These are those additional fees you face, depending upon the way you choose to pay.
They are usually nailed onto the price when you choose to pay by credit card or even by debit card.
BIS, the government department, has finally joined the rest of us in believing that these payments have become 'excessive'. I know, you could think of a stronger way of expressing that. Me too! Well they are going to be stopped from charging any more than it costs them to process the payment.
It's generally thought that a fair charge for using a debit card would be between 10-20p and the real cost of processing a credit card transaction is no more than two per cent.
The point is simple, but the relevant regulations will be complex. BIS will soon be publishing guidelines to help sellers comply. The early betting is that they will comply and just hike their prices up to cover the difference – but let's wait and see.
Last week I wrote about trying to stop junk phone calls trying to sell you services such as helping to reclaim payments when PPI was miss-sold to you.
The rolling news stories about the magnitude of the miss-selling has spawned hundreds of these claims management outfits... so many that a special unit was set up within the Ministry of Justice to keep an eye on them.
Last weekend they reported that they have banned 103 PPI firms from operating and warned 149 more. The main reasons were: misleading marketing, high-pressure selling, poor complaints systems and unclear fees.
The clear majority of complaints the unit receives are related to PPI claims management companies. There were 2,405 between 2011-12.
If you want to register a complaint visit: http://www.justice.gov.uk/claims-regulation/information-for-consumers, or search Ministry of Justice claims management information for consumers. It's pretty easy to stake a claim without having to pay one of these outfits 30–40 per cent of the money you may recover. Search for moneysavingexpert and PPI. All you need is there, and it's free.
A reader has contacted me about buying a second-hand car. The seller was a trader. That's good because your rights are stronger there.
The problem is that there is a difference between the mileage on the paperwork and that on the vehicle – of over 7,000 miles. I want to believe that this is just a clerical error and as you are reading this, our reader has been refunded the difference in value between what was sold and what was described.
Obviously the odometer reading is part of the description and that's part of the contract with the seller. The buyer is entitled to be put where he (or she) should have been. Incidentally, it may also be a crime to provide such misleading information. That's a matter for the local Trading Standards folks.
If you are just off out to buy a used car ('previously loved' as they say in the USA) then get any promises or agreements in writing, and make sure you ask all the right questions.
Such as, what mechanical and mileage checks are there? How many owners has the car had? Is the full service history available? Has the car been modified? Has it been involved in an accident? There's much more for you at http://www.adviceguide.org.uk
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As always, and as an increasing number of you do, you can contact me either by email firstname.lastname@example.org) or by post at Plymouth Law School, Plymouth University, PL4 8AA.