If you are using a debit card to purchase something, does a business have to inform you that you will incur an extracharge?

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If you are using a debit card to purchase something, does a business have to inform you that you will incur an extracharge?

There is a gas station near my home that “used” to charge $0.45 when purchasing gas with a credit or debit card. Recently there have been signs on all the pumps saying that their charge for using a card has been done away with in order to “give the best customer experience”. They also took out the card readers at the pumps so you need to go inside to pay with a card. I have been buying my gas there ever since they have gotten rid of the charge. However, I just checked my bank statement and after I had been charged for my gas there has been a $0.50 mystery charge. Is it legal to charge me?

Asked on July 23, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It's only legal to charge you if there is some notice of the additional charge, so that you could be said to have agreed to the charge by using that form of payment. For example, when I was young, it was common for the price-per-gallon of gasoline to be higher for credit card sales than cash sales; since the higher price was prominently advertised, it was perfectly legal. If therefore there is no indication that there is a surchage or a higher price for use of a debit card, that would not be legal--you have a right to charged the actual listed price. As a practical matter, of course, there is little you can do about a $0.50 change--you're not going to take legal action over that--other than perhaps not going back to this service station again.


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