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Surcharge rules for proper Easter trading

This Easter weekend comes with guidelines for proper surcharging. Retail NZ and Commerce Commission lay down the law of proper Easter trading.

This Easter weekend comes with guidelines for proper surcharging. Retail NZ and Commerce Commission lay down the law of proper Easter trading.

Commerce Commission released a reminder that if you are a business that is applying a surcharge to its weekend trading costs then it must be stated clearly and accurately to customers.

Surcharging is legal, but only if a business tells its customers they have done so. It must also be clear about why there is a surcharge.

The Commerce Commission provides these two guidelines to making sure your business operates lawfully over the long weekend:

1) Ensure customers are made aware of the surcharge before they make a decision to purchase, so they can decide whether to pay it or go elsewhere
2) Accurately describe the reason for the surcharge. 

Greg Harford for Retail NZ says his advice for businesses opening over the weekend is for it to be accurate about its surcharging.

“A café can’t apply a “public holiday surcharge” on Easter Saturday or Easter Sunday, because those days are not public holidays,” says Harford. “Businesses have tended to surcharge on public holidays to reflect the higher cost of wages on those days.”

Harford says that if a business is honest and open about their operations then they can open without any issues.  

“With any surcharging, we always advise businesses to be clear about what the surcharge is for; make it really transparent to customers before they consume anything that the surcharge applies; and make sure you don’t recover more than the cost through your surcharge.” (e.g. you can’t apply a 5 percent credit card surcharge if you pay the bank 2 percent for processing a transaction).

Surcharges will mostly be found in the hospitality sector as most retail places will be shut during the statutory holidays.

Although Harford acknowledges fewer places are applying a surcharge, it is still mandatory that if it is done, it is done correctly.

For more Easter trading information and advice visit the Retail NZ Easter trading page here

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