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Good Question: Are you being overcharged illegally?

April 29, 2019 08:36 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Lori Howland from Wayne County noticed something strange on two recent receipts when paying with a credit card. 

She was charged a small convenience fee.

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"New York state has laws on the books against this," Howland said.

She asked Pat Taney to look into it for this week's Good Question report.

When News10NBC last tackled this issue more than a year ago, charging you extra for using a credit card was technically against state law. But, things have changed. 

"Now you can do it, just as long as you tell people," said Attorney David Sieling with Brenna Boyce P.L.L.C.

The clarification comes from a recent Court of Appeals' ruling which came down at the beginning of the year. According to the majority ruling, surcharges are allowed as long as a business tell people exactly what they'll be paying.

"The court ruled you can do it but must list both your cash price and your credit price in dollars and cents conspicuously," Sieling said.

Gas stations already do this. They give you a cash price and a credit card price. It's clear some other businesses aren't following the court's interpretation of the law.

Howland said she only found out about her fee from a recent visit to a store after she got the receipt. That is called single sticker pricing.

"Single sticker pricing would be here's the price and then we sneak in a little extra at the register." Sieling said. "That's what you can't do. It's not so much it has to be on the receipt, you have to know when you walk in the door you're going to pay more when you pay with a credit card." 

Business owners aren't making more money on the deal. They're charged by credit card companies for every transaction.

"Business owners have a cost put on them by the technology," Sieling said.

Now, they can pass that fee onto you only if, according to the courts, they tell you upfront.

"Being open with the public is the best policy," Sieling said. "It's a good ending to a long and difficult statute."

If you have a question you'd like Pat to answer, send him an email at GoodQuestion@whec.com

Credits

Pat Taney

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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