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    New Jersey Legislators Seek to Ban Credit Card Surcharge

    The legislation would impose a penalty of up to $10,000 for a first offense.

    TRENTON, N.J. -- Three Democratic New Jersey state senators are looking to crack down on credit card surcharges and the retailers who want to impose them. On Monday, the legislation proposed by Sens. Jim Whelan, Bob Gordon and Nia G. Hill that would outlaw the added fees was advanced by the Senate Commerce Committee.

    Under S-2533, retailers who impose surcharges on credit card users would be subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense, according to a report by PoltickerNJ.

    The credit card surcharges were approved under a settlement between Visa, MasterCard banks and retailers, but a federal judge did not yet approve the settlement amount. Since Jan. 27, retailers have been permitted to apply a surcharge equal to 1.5 percent to 4 percent of the purchase price.

    "Nationally, we are starting to see gains in the economy, as we slowly pull out of the recession," Whelan told the news outlet. "Once again, New Jersey residents are hit with fees and charges at the check-out line that could have a real impact on families' and residents' budgets. Nearly a quarter of all purchases made in the U.S. are made using a credit card, and with the additional imposition of up to 4 percent in charges, this could negatively affect New Jersey's growing consumer confidence."

    If the bill passes, New Jersey would join California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas, which have already outlawed the credit card surcharges.

    The bill is opposed by John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, who said, according to The Record, the legislation is "in search of a problem that doesn't exist." He believes that lawmakers will be "hard-pressed" to find a single New Jersey retailer that plans to add the surcharge.

    As CSNews Online previously reported, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has accused credit card companies of using surcharging as propaganda. The organization's vice-president, J. Craig Shearman, said merchants have "no desire" and "no plans" to surcharge.

     

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