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Wheeler bill targets credit card surcharges

State Rep. Barb Wheeler issued the following news release on Monday:

SPRINGFIELD – With the 98th General Assembly about to swing into full gear, state Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is looking toward consumer protection with her first ever piece of legislation aimed at credit card user fees.

“There are certainly signs that the economy is moving again; however, families are still weary of fee increases,” Wheeler stated.  “Even small savings can go a long way, and now is not the time to begin burdening families with increased fees, regardless of their size.”

The measure, HB 977, seeks to make it unlawful for merchants to impose a surcharge on a consumer who elects to pay with a credit card. In July, an antitrust settlement between the major credit companies, Visa and MasterCard, and merchants will now allow retailers to charge a higher price for consumers who choose the “credit” option as opposed to the “debit” option when making purchases beginning on Jan. 27 of this year. Prior to the settlement, merchants were only allowed to offer discounts to non-credit card purchases, not to charge a higher price to those paying with credit.

This bill marks the first piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Wheeler and is already receiving support from many of her constituents.

Area business owner Pete Kalantzis, owner of Marzano’s Wood Fired Italian Restaurant in McHenry, has already vowed not to charge customers. “Me personally, I will not charge my customers,” Kalantzis stated. “Credit cards are a part of our cost of doing business. We are providing a service and we shouldn’t be penalizing our customers for using credit cards.”

“This is exactly why Rep. Wheeler will be an asset to the people of McHenry County,” said Ed Donahue of the Law Office of Donahue and Walsh. “This is a common sense approach to an issue that affects everyone. I am the owner of a small business and credit card surcharges have always been a cost of doing business. I am also a consumer and this is a bill that protects the consumer.”

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