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This blue sticker could save Aussie shoppers millions

Aussies are collectively flushing away $110 million in tap and go fees for coffee purchases alone, and this has to stop, a new campaign is urging.

The vast majority of Australians (94 per cent) consider surcharge fees a rip-off, while 68 per cent would end a purchase if they realised they would be charged a surcharge.

Comparison service, finder.com.au’s new campaign hopes to end tap and go surcharges and minimum spend fees, finder money expert, Bessie Hassan said.

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Under the campaign, Aussie shoppers will be able to identify fee-free shops by their blue Fee-Free Shop stickers, or shoppers can use the searchable Fee-Free Shop map to look for fee-free shops by postcode or address.

This sticker will appear in fee-free shops

“When consumers see one of the Fee-Free Shop stickers, they immediately know they won’t be stung with a surcharge or minimum transaction amount for the simple privilege of using their debit or credit card,” Hassan said.

“As we become a cashless society, customers shouldn’t be charged 0.5–1-5 per cent in fees for simply choosing to pay by card.”

Alarmingly, 32 per cent of shoppers have been charged surcharges without having been informed prior, with young adults the worst hit.

“Young adults are the biggest targets, with 42 per cent of Generation Y hit with a credit card surcharge without being informed beforehand by staff or a sign,” Hassan said.

“This is quite shocking – charging a surcharge without the customer’s knowledge is an unfair and unwelcome surprise.”

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Aussie spenders should keep an eye out for surcharges at hotels, cafes and when buying tickets for a concert. However, restaurants are the worst offenders, with 13 per cent of survey respondents having been charged an unexpected surcharge while at a restaurant.

Finder said Australians are collectively spending an extra $110 million on coffee purchase surcharges every year. Additionally, if a consumer bought coffee and lunch five days a week and paid a 1.5 per cent surcharge each time, it would cost you $50.62 a year. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, that’s just the surcharge on coffee and lunch, Finder said.

How much is too much?

It’s illegal for businesses to charge more than the amount it costs the to accept card payments, with the Reserve Bank of Australia putting this figure at 0.5 per cent for debit cards, 1-1.5 per cent for credit cards and 2-3 per cent for American Express cards.

Hassan said Aussie shoppers can share their favourite fee-free shops online with #FeeFreeShop, or nominate through the finder.com.au Fee Free Shop portal.

“Shop owners and workers are also encouraged to self-nominate. By doing so, you’ll be helping regular Aussies make a more informed decision on how and where to spend their hard-earned money.”

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Just as retailers are free to charge certain fees, customers are also free to shop elsewhere, Hassan said, warning that excess fees are a massive bugbear for consumers and can damage retailers’ reputations and bottom lines.

“More Australian businesses are going to have to phase out these unnecessary fees or risk losing customers.”

Aussies love to tap and go

According to new Commonwealth Bank data, Aussie shoppers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop, with user growth up 35 per cent in the past six months.

Shoppers are largely using digital wallets to buy groceries, beverages, food and petrol, with major supermarkets making up 20 per cent of tap and go transactions, and fast food chains 10 per cent.

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Three quarters of digital wallet customers are men, the Commonwealth Bank analysis also revealed, while 50 per cent of users are in their 20s and one third in their 30s.