As noted in my last post about a new California law, a new year means new laws, including in the advertising law and consumer protection arenas.  And our own New York governor has acted quickly.  Announcing the first plank of her 2024 State of the State, Governor Hochul unveiled what she called “a sweeping consumer protection and affordability agenda.”  Included with her plan to increase the maximum benefit for paid medical and disability leave, eliminate co-pays for insulin, and further regulate Buy Now Pay Later providers, along with her already signing a law to amend the state’s automatic renewal statute (as previously reported), the Governor signed a new law regarding credit card sales. 

The new law, an amendment to New York’s General Business Law, requires sellers who wish to charge consumers more for an item if they pay for it with a credit card (which sellers are expressly permitted to do under the law) to “clearly post[] the credit card price, inclusive of such surcharge, at the location where the sale occurs.”  Further, “the final sales price of any such sales transaction, inclusive of surcharge, shall not amount to a price greater than the posted price for such sales transaction.” The surcharge charged the consumer by the seller cannot exceed the amount charged the seller by the credit card company.  The law, enforceable by municipal and local government authorities, establishes a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each violation, and “all moneys collected thereunder shall be retained by such municipality or local government.” 

Like the FTC’s pending “junk fee” rule, the New York law, though limited to credit card surcharges, is all about ensuring that consumers know exactly what they’ll be paying at the register.  It is not enough to tell a consumer that she’ll be paying a 5% surcharge for using her card; the seller must tell her the total price inclusive of the surcharge.  As the legislative history for the new law notes, “customers must not be expected to do the math to figure out the total price that they will be paying.” Requiring sellers to post the full price, inclusive of the credit card surcharge, is what will “prevent consumers from being misled when making a purchase using their credits cards.”  The new law goes into effect in mid February.

Significantly, the Governor’s press release also noted that her office has proposed amendments to expand consumer protection laws to enhance the Attorney General’s ability to enforce consumer protections, and give the State additional tools “to pursue bad actors.” We will be watching for amendments with interest and will report back to our readers.

Oh, and New York’s new minimum wage ($16 in NYC and environs; $15 in the rest of the state) went into effect on January 1st.