CANBERRA (PNA/Xinhua) — Australian companies which slug consumers excessive fees for using bank cards to pay for good and services will be fined under new laws which came into effect on September 1.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill which would allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate and fine large companies which charge consumers exorbitant charges for wanting to use a credit or debit card for payment.

Airlines, taxis and ticketing companies were found to be among the worst offenders, with some credit card fees being in excess of 1,000 percent above the cost of actually processing the payment.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said consumers now have the power to dob in large companies who continue to charge consumers for wanting to use a progressive, 21st-century method of payment, with businesses facing fines of up to $1.1 million for ignoring the new laws.

“The companies will only be able to charge roughly half a percent for a debit card, 1.5 percent roughly for a Visa or MasterCard, and say 2.5 to 3 percent for a bank-issued American Express card,” Sims told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“This is really irritating for consumers, they go right through a transaction be it booking a flight, booking a theatre ticket, booking the footy finals, and only at the end do they find they’re subject to another charge.”

According to Sims, companies with two of the following criteria will be affected during the first year of implementation — a gross revenue of $25 million, or assets worth at least $12.5 million, or with 50 or more employees.

The law will be applied to all companies on 1 September 2017.

He said the new laws send a message to companies not to “push the limits” of what the consumer decides is “acceptable.”

“Consumers have been complaining about this for some time, the government has listened to those complaints and changed the law,” Sims said.

“I think when companies push the boundaries they’ve got to understand they can provoke this sort of government reaction.

“It’s a big win for consumers, but it’s also a lesson for companies not to push the limits.”

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