Agents are profiting from debit and credit card surcharges, according to new Which? Money research.
The consumer body has ‘named and shamed’ agents that it says are ripping tenants off with surcharges.
The new Which? research claims that of the top 20 UK estate agents by branch network size, four – Andrews, Foxtons, Knight Frank and Badger Holdings – charge for debit card transactions, and 13 charge for credit cards when renters pay their deposit.
Which? claims the highest charge for credit cards was 5% from Andrews, well above the estimated 1% to 2% cost of processing a credit card payment.
With the most recent figures putting the average monthly national rental at £713, Which? says the credit card charges would add £53 to the typical six-week rental deposit. For London properties this would add £77.
For debit cards the highest charge was 0.5% from Foxtons and Knight Frank, although recent Which? research showed the actual cost of a debit card transaction is closer to 10p.
The figures follow Which?’s super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading in March, asking the regulator to investigate excessive credit and debit card surcharges.
The OFT responded on June 28 proposing that debit card surcharges be banned.
Which? says this could be achieved by a simple amendment from the Treasury to the Payment Services Regulations. However, as yet the Government has taken no action, and consumers will have to wait until 2013 for the Consumer Rights Directive – which will limit charges – to be implemented.
A spokesperson for Andrews said the firm is now reviewing its credit card charges.