Is It Legal for a Business Not to Offer Any Fee Free Ways to Pay?

Hi all,

Anyone know if it's legal not to offer any free ways to pay? I have seen this more and more that businesses don't have a free what to pay.

E.g child care centre only has a weekly payment option and its $1 from a bank account or 1.3% to 3.5% by credit card. No fee free way to pay.

Another I just remembered is discount gift cards from work are advertised at 5% off then at the last step it says can only pay by MasterCard/Visa with a 1.3% fee. Seems like false advertising to me.

I can't remember where but there was one that had cheque as the only free option! But you have to pay for a stamp so not really free.



  • +24

    Unsure if it's illegal but I can definitely agree with you that it's damn annoying.

    • +22

      So, while it is not illegal to not offer a fee-free way to pay, if the fee cannot be avoided it is misleading to advertise a price that does not include it

      • +4

        In other words, business wrote the guidelines to police themselves with zero accountability for violating them.

        • +2

          ok, so you hate guvmints, liberal & labor party, businesses, paypal, anything else? :D

          • +8


            Chemtrails, vaccines and fluoridated water.

            • +2

              @Scrooge McDuck: Don't know why the neg. I thought it was a funny response to a funny comment. Good to see the sarcasm flag get waved by others.

              I'll add event tickets (concerts, footy etc.) that charge delivery fees for the ticket when you are the one paying for printing it at home (well, at work in true OzBargin style).

            • @Scrooge McDuck: Welcome back!

      • +1

        agree, the gift card one really gets me as they say its 5% off and only take credit card but the store (where the gift card is for) takes credit card at no cost so it only 3.7% off

  • +27

    I had this thought a couple of weeks ago when I was renting a car from Avis and every payment method had a fee attached to it. So I snapped a picture of their schedule of fees and sent an email off to the ACCC. Their response said that a business has no obligation to provide a fee free method of payment. Their only obligation is to make the fees know and provide a reasonable estimate of the fees value.

    So bottom line it is legal so long as they disclose the fee before you make the purchase.

    I am with you OP, it is a cost of doing business and should be rolled into the general costs to make a fee free payment. I avoid places not offering fee free payments now.

    Another one to add to the list is my real estate agent only allows rental payments through a third party provider and I now have to pay $3 per month for the privilege!!

    • -27

      I am with you OP, it is a cost of doing business and should be rolled into the general costs to make a fee free payment.

      Is there really a difference between paying $100 + (eg. 1.3%) fees, or $101.30 and fee free because they've now increased their price?

      (that's a rhetorical question the correct answer to which is "no".)

      • +18

        well Yes there is cause then you’ve got an upfront knowledge of what it will actually going to cost you

        • Most places do inform you if there is a fee when paying with certain methods.

        • I mean, that's why:

          sent an email off to the ACCC. Their response said that a business has no obligation to provide a fee free method of payment. Their only obligation is to make the fees know and provide a reasonable estimate of the fees value.

      • +1

        True, but I think they should advertised with full price inc other hidden fees, when there is no fee free option involved, specially for car rental and airline ticketing.

      • +12

        I'm sure that it is unlawful to not disclose final sale price for common items hence why retailers have to show GST inclusive pricing.

        What's the point of advertising an unobtainable price? The only possible answer is deception.

        • +3

          Oh absolutely, but as the ACCC helpfully points out to MAKA, that's already an obligation:

          Their only obligation is to make the fees know and provide a reasonable estimate of the fees value.

          I think that's fine. Full disclosure is I think the gold standard really - it doesn't matter how it's calculated so long as you know what the end amount you're paying beforehand so it's not some kind of bait-and-switch (or just plainly misleading).

          • +1

            @HighAndDry: Maybe it is permissable but as you say, not gold standard of practice.

            I just do what any reasonable person would do if confronted with such practice, turn and walk away. Free country.

            • @DisabledUser88699: Absolutely fair. By "gold standard" I meant applied more generally - not just in pricing (yes, a full, single up-front number is ideal in this context).

      • +5

        you are correct with the math

        I think mentally there is a difference. I feel annoyed when the fees get added on at the end. This is where I think Australia got it right with the need to all taxes to be included. Now we are sliding away from that with the number of fees that can be added after the subtotal.

        If there were two stores offering the same product and one offered it at $100 +1.3% fee and the other offered it at $101.30 with no fees I would be inclined to make my transaction through the one with no fees. As all the costs are up front.

        For me personally this feeling stems from when you could pay cash fee free and had to pay for using an electronic payment method. There is an implied cost of cash to any business, weather it be sorting out change or counting coins at the end of the day. You weren't charged a fee to pay cash it was built into the cost of business. Now businesses do not accept cash payments but still charge for the transaction. It just annoys me.

    • +4

      In Victoria real estate agents must have a fee free option for you to pay rent. I pay by personal cheque because I refuse to pay the fees to use their electronic payment service.

      • I haven't heard of this, but I am very interested in it. I complained to my agent when they told me that they didnt have a fee free option for payment of rent. Do you have any more information on this? I would be willing to throw it back to the agent to provide me a fee free payment method

        • +1

          This app might help. From Consumer Affairs.

          • @Lateralnw: Thanks!

            • @MaKa: Just be careful though when you approach your landlord.
              If you kick up too much hassle they will boot you out and get someone else in.

              • @afah0447: Yes true, but it is still worth the question.

              • @afah0447: If you are going through a real estate agent, the landlord won't care as they aren't the ones dealing with the payments from the tennant.

                This fee issue is between the tennant and the real estate agent.

                So I highly doubt a landlord would kick someone out and then have to pay the RE the first week + advertising costs over the real estate's problem.

              • +1

                @afah0447: If the landlord is willing to kick someone out for raising a point about $2 a week (month). Then they are absolutely powertripping. The costs of readvertising and having an empty property is much much greater than what it would cost the agent to provide another fee free option

        • If the agent is charging the fees it's definitely not allowed, but due to the wording in the Residential Tenancies Act if it's a third party collecting the rent things are a bit more grey [1]. I had issues with my agent when they were transitioning to a third party collector from it being fee-free but after complaining enough they caved and I got out of the fees. [1] has some good information though about fees in relation to third party rent collectors.


      • I've never heard of rental payments attracting a fee before, I've had direct debit in the past, and currently direct deposit (only option they offer) and none have charged a fee.

        Even the pathetically hopeless McDonald real estate (who wouldn't/couldn't stop the land lord from continually turning up at the house with no notice and letting themselves in the back yard, and who called us up weeks after we moved out [we moved out and returned keys early to get away from the landlords 'harassment'] and handed the keys back when we were going to return the keys) didn't charge any fees.

  • +14

    Ticket agencies providing 4 separate delivery options but all have a fee attached to them - WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY $5 TO USE MY ONLINE TICKET???

    • +1

      You even pay an extra fee to print your own ticket. It's insane rip off but we keep paying it, so why would they not…

    • +1

      Ticketmaster is the devil. Their reseller website consistently breaks the law (especially in QLD) but the police are completely inept and hopeless to prosecute because it is in the too hard basket. Some poor schmo scalper on street can get the book thrown at them though. Police are a f'ing joke in this state.

    • Why? Because they sell more tickets at $48 (plus $5 fee disclosed later) than they do for $53 upfront.

      • +2

        Not only that - the performers, shows, teams, etc that sell tickets through the ticketing agencies are completely in on it too. They allow the ticketing agency to charge obscene fees and charges, because it's better PR for them to be seen selling tickets for cheaper and instead get a cut of the ticketing agency's fees.

        So instead of $200 tickets + $10 fees (boo! [Act/performer/etc] are ripping off their fans!), it becomes

        $140 tickets + $70 fees, and the act gets maybe $50 of that $70. They look better selling $140 tickets instead of $200 ones, and they still get a tonne of money.

        • $140 tickets + $70 fees, and the act gets maybe $50 of that $70.

          Is that how it really works? I doubt the act sees any of these extra fees.

          • +1

            @MrBear: Doubt all you want, it happens and happens commonly:


            Enduring a stern grilling by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and New York Democrat Charles Schumer, Azoff, seated next to LiveNation kingpin Michael Rapino, uttered a statement only a few outlets, including Nashville industry blog Coolfer, reported: “I would also like to get on the record that when people hear what Ticketmaster’s service charge is, Ticketmaster was set up as a system where they took the heat for everybody. Ticketmaster gets a minority percentage of that service charge. In that service charge are the credit-card fees, the rebates to the buildings, rebates sometimes to artists, sometimes rebates to promoters.”

            Before you jump on the fact that this was said by the Ticketmaster CEO at the time (and so obviously self-serving), this was before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing which happens under oath.

            Edit: Just because I can't believe people don't know this, this was pretty widely reported.

            The Guardian:

            around 10% is going to be swallowed up by a booking fee and processing fee (either posting the tickets or charging you for the “privilege” of printing them at home), with some of that actually working its way back to the band and their promoter.


            But the open secret in the music industry is that venues and promoters were fine with those fees because they shared in the revenues while letting Ticketmaster take the fallout.


            These vary by event, and retail outlet/box office purchases usually don't include an order processing fee. These fees are typically shared with the artist, venue, or promoter


            • @HighAndDry: Thanks for the good info, I was genuinely asking.

              "stern grilling by Orinn Hatch" LoL - that had me laughing…

              Anything in Australia though?

        • What events would be able to slap $70 on fees? They would lose so many sales. $7 in fees maybe.

        • Pearl Jam tried to fight this and lost.

    • I like attending the NRL and Super15 and never buy tickets online. Never a fee if you pay in cash at the gate!

    • Same with cinemas, $11 tickets plus $1.80 per ticket booking fee online. So it's just $12.80. Not sure why there's even a booking fee, surely it discourages use of buying them online in the first place, only reason I do it is because I can reserve good seats.

      • Hardly makes sense. You’d think they’d encourage you to buy online, yunno, employ less people/pay less wages.

  • -1

    I have a hard time believing they don't accept cash. Do they accept cash?

    • +5

      There are places that do no accept cash. This is to remove any possible avenue for staff to skim.

      • That's crazy. I mean, understandable, and a little depressing, but still crazy.

        • Real Estate agents do this, they won't accept cash for rent payments.

          My RE insists that tenants use Rental Rewards for rent payment.
          This pisses me off because it could have been simpler If I just auto-EFT my payment week/fortnightly
          They have to do settlement/reconciliation of payment from Rental Rewards anyway, so its useless for renter and agent.

          R/Reward charges 1.4% for Visa/Mastercard payments and $2 for direct debiting from bank acct.
          Had I used the credit card option, over a year $300+ would have been spent just paying for the 1.4%

          • +4

            @payton: In NSW (maybe other states) they must offer a fee free way to pay rent. Most dont tell you but if you ask what their fee free method to pay is they give you a BSB and account number.

            • +1

              @Yabadabadoo: Just called Residential Tenancy Authority in QLD and they said the agent does not have to give tenants a "fee-free" option for rent payment.
              Called the RE agent to negotiate and they finally allowed me to pay by personal cheque - still no EFT option which I think is easiest for all, ie no need for them to deposit cheques

              • @payton: RTa also said any fee for the rent pay methods must be disclosed prior

          • +4

            @payton: I bet Rental "Rewards" gives a kickback to the agent.

      • I doubt that is the main reason.

        • +1

          I remember the place now. It is a 24/7 pharmacy. They did this to prevent robberies as well as undocumented sales (ie under the table pseudoephedrine sales).

          This wasn't a government imposed policy, it's by HQ's own design.

          • @DisabledUser88699: Oh sorry misread your post. I thought I read you said theft was the reason all places didn't accept cash.

      • Brilliant haha.

  • +1

    How can they justify that $1 fee for the bank account option?

    • +2

      Account clerk reconciliation cost lol.

    • because they use an external payment collector, its just stupid as they chage $140 a day then go ohh an $1 a week to pay us !! Just stupid.

  • The rub is the advertised price will almost never include the surcharge….it'll entice you in and only THEN do you find the price is unobtainable. It's similar to those that offer pickup to avoid postage fees but then charge you a stocking fee or some such malarky on top.

    Both are deceptive and make me think "no true customer service will be found here with these ethics on show", walk away.

    May be legal but should be illegal.

  • +1

    RBA Banknotes: Legal Tender - Reserve Bank of Australia Banknotes

    However although transactions are to be in Australian currency unless otherwise agreed or specified, and Australian currency has legal tender status, Australian banknotes and coins do not necessarily have to be used in transactions and refusal to accept payment in legal tender banknotes and coins is not unlawful.

    How messed up is this world

    • The revolution and uprising is coming!

      • And who's going to be enforcing people to accept bottle caps as currency in this future of yours?

        • The lone wanderer, of course. He/She does everything else.

  • +1

    At the same time, if they don't 'charge' you for it, you know it will just be built into the price. So you're complaining about semantics really. Basically (and i'll preface by saying I am totally on your side here and agree with how crap it is) Basically you are saying you don't want to know you are being charged a fee.

    Kinda like not knowing you are being charged for the advertising, the staff costs, the rental of the business, the franchise fees. You THINK you are just paying for the car..but you are blissfully unaware that there's all sorts of fees…transaction fees are just shown.

    • +3

      The problem is that they are deceiving you by seemingly offering a good deal. They get your attention, and then piss you off when you see all the additional charges. People don’t like to be baited or mislead.

  • +3

    The Toll company (now Linkt?) in QLD have recently introduced this. Another company that is the devil.

  • +4

    + 1% payment processing
    + 30% staff salaries
    + 10% staff annual leave
    + 7% staff sick leave
    + 20% electricity
    + 10% water and sewage
    + 15% office furniture
    + 50% rent
    + 8% carpet
    + 2% paint on the walls
    + 3% clean air fee
    + 2% convenience fee
    + 1% charitable donation to a cause of your choosing

    All prices are inclusive of 10% GST.

    • +6

      Reminds me of Baron Sacha Cohen's song in Les Miserables - Master of the House

      Charge 'em for the lice, extra for the mice
      Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
      Here a little slice, there a little cut
      Three percent for sleeping with the window shut

  • +1

    Secure parking was one of the culprits in this. Advertising prices which were impossible to get (compulsory booking fee not mentioned until later in the process). And that's not legal. A few complaints to the ACCC and they adjusted their website somewhat to skirt around the letter of the law.

    Basically they have to advertise the minimum total price (inclusive of any booking fees) at least as prominently as the price exclusive of any compulsory fees.

    So while businesses don't have to offer fee free ways to pay, they have to build those fees into the most (at least equally most) prominently displayed price. If they actually offer a fee free way to pay they don't have to. But they then have to justify payment surcharges for credit cards based on what it actually costs them to accept. Eg, if it costs them 0.8% they can't charge a 1% surcharge, ever.

    • +1

      Another is a concert/event ticketer. Cannot remember who. Who stoked when one of the artist (also cannot remember who now) was going to do a show in Sydney but the ticketer was charging $15pp internet booking fee on top of advertised price (was like a $90 thing).

      I decided that they need us, not the other way around so stuff that. We should just stop patronizing unethical establishments. They have a right to behave as they please because it is not an essential commodity, we are free to vote with our money.

  • +1

    Have you seen the fees rental rewards adds when there's an error in processing?? Such a rort.

  • Pretty simple really, take your money elsewhere & show them!

    Recently bought a car from Dealer Auction(over $10k) & had the cash in my pocket when I went to pay for it they refused, maximum I could pay via cash was $500 deposit & the rest via wire transfer, bank cheque or direct debit/deposit. I had to go to their bank (ANZ) & deposit the balance so it showed in their acct & would let me take the car straight away (after they processed it)

    • +2

      Usual practice for these things is a bank cheque (or a days in advance direct deposit) not cash. No one wants the risk that comes from handling that much cash (eg your mate robs them of the cash 15 mins later). Also it looks dodgy at both ends without a paper trail these days. For large amounts you will have a hard time finding elsewhere to take your money that isn’t dodgy.

      • +1

        Anything more than $10k, cash is likely to be money laundering.

  • +1

    If the fee is made known to the customers it's perfectly legal. Customers can choose to go else where which offers a fee free payment.

    • Yes, perfectly legal as long as the fee is at least as prominent as the price in any advertising (assuming there is no way to avoid the fee). And if any credit card fees are not even 1c more than the cost of processing your specific transaction.

      Companies regularly break the law and are pursued for not following these rules.

  • Such bullocks

  • Jetstar is one !! Although you can get around it (I've heard) with the use of giftcards, still wrong in my opinion.

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