Consumers urged to look out for unexpected international transaction fees

Consumers should look out for unexpected international transaction fees when buying online from major brands, the ACCC has warned.

Even websites with a .com.au domain name or that appear to be Australian based may process transactions overseas, meaning consumers can get charged an international transaction fee even for a purchase made in Australian dollars.

The ACCC says retailers may be engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct if Australian consumers are given the overall impression that the transaction is processed here, when it is actually processed outside of Australia.

Businesses should clearly inform consumers when they are likely to be charged an international transaction fee, the ACCC says, and has issued guidance to retailers about how price information should be presented to consumers.

Following engagement with the ACCC, Nike Inc has recently changed its Australian online check out page so customers are alerted that they may be charged an international transaction fee.

“It is unclear to many consumers whether a retailer processes transactions overseas, so we expect retailers to make this clear to consumers on their websites,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“Consumers who have been charged an unexpected international transaction fee for a purchase in Australian dollars from a website that appears Australian-based or has an Australian domain name should query the fee with their bank and report it to the ACCC,” Mr Sims said.

“If you are making regular purchases with overseas businesses, it may be worth considering a credit or debit card with no international transaction fees or asking your bank to block international transactions for certain cards.”

The ACCC will continue to monitor this issue and encourages consumers to make a complaint to the ACCC if they identify retailers who do not warn consumers about potential fees.

More information, including guidance for consumers and businesses, is available at Foreign currency conversion services inquiry

Background

The ACCC’s inquiry into the supply of foreign currency conversion services identified concerns surrounding the incurrence of international transaction fees by Australian consumers for seemingly domestic online transactions.

The ACCC identified that it would monitor the issue of merchants not adequately warning consumers of potential fees and investigate further where warranted.

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