The Commerce Commission has put out a press release encouraging businesses to ensure customers are not misled by surcharges.
Many businesses apply surcharges to recover additional costs such as higher staff wages on public holidays. Businesses must ensure any surcharge is clearly disclosed and the reasons for the surcharge are accurately described or they may risk breaching the Fair Trading Act.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings said ultimately a business can charge what it likes for its products or services and consumers will make their own decisions about whether to pay or go elsewhere. However, if a surcharge is applied, it must be clearly disclosed and the reasons must not mislead customers.
“Businesses that do apply a surcharge must ensure people are alerted to this before they make a decision to purchase. This gives consumers the ability to decide whether they are prepared to pay a surcharge or would rather go elsewhere,” Ms Rawlings said.
“The reason for the surcharge must be accurately described and must not mislead consumers. For example a business must not claim their surcharge on Easter Sunday is because it is a public holiday, as the only public holidays over the Easter weekend are Good Friday and Easter Monday.
“We encourage all businesses that are trading this Easter weekend to make sure they are complying with the Fair Trading Act and not misleading customers. We also encourage consumers who feel that they have been misled by a surcharge to contact us on 0800 943 600 or via our website.”