In early January, I blogged about a new law in New York that 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.” In addition, the surcharge charged the consumer by the seller cannot exceed the amount charged the seller by the credit card company.

As I noted in my post, the legislators specifically intended to ensure that consumers would not have to “do the math” to figure out the total price.  Now, New York State’s Division of Consumer Protection wants to make it easy for local governments and merchants too. As announced in the Governor’s release, the DCP has issued guidance to local governments throughout the state who will be charged with compliance , as well as videos and a poster with helpful graphics for merchants. 

As the graphics clearly illustrate, while a merchant can display two prices – one including the surcharge and one without – it cannot simply post a price, plus ”X% processing fee.”

Other  graphics illustrate additional credit card surcharge violations. 

To recoup their credit card processing costs, businesses are expressly allowed to charge different prices for credit card and cash purchases, and list them separately, and charge more for purchases made with a credit card or provide a discount for those paying cash.  If they prefer, they may also charge the same price for credit and cash transactions, recouping their costs from all customers.

New York’s new law is undoubtedly one of many we’ll see this year, throughout the country, addressing surcharge and fee disclosures and practices. And given the recent outcry over a restaurant chain’s purported foray into dynamic (or “surge”) pricing , we may see further legislative activity addressing a variety of pricing practices.