Move to reduce credit card fees an important first step

Published November 4, 2014

TORONTO, November 4, 2014 – Restaurant operators welcome the long-awaited announcement of a reduction in credit card interchange fees.

“This voluntary move to lower rates is a positive step for restaurateurs who pay among the highest credit card transaction fees in the world,” said Garth Whyte, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “However, the devil is in the details. We will carefully monitor how fees are ‘averaged’ and the impact on our members. Ultimately, it should be a win for consumers if the reductions are significant enough to pass on.”

Credit card companies have unabatedly raised fees at will for many years, in one-sided negotiations with merchants. This announcement means the end of upward pressure on credit card fees, which takes away some of the uncertainty for restaurateurs.

“Restaurants Canada has long decried the proliferation of premium credit cards and their impact on merchant fees,” said Whyte. “Eighty per cent of our members have blamed credit card fees for significantly impacting their bottom line. In some cases, the card issuer makes as much profit on a meal as the restaurateur.”

Restaurants Canada appreciates the work of Minister of Finance Joe Oliver and his predecessor, the late Jim Flaherty, for bringing about this voluntary accord. However, more work needs to be done to further reduce credit card fees.

“As it stands, card issuers collect $40 million annually in merchant fees on the sales tax portion of a restaurant bill,” said Whyte. “Credit card companies should not be profiting from taxes collected for government.”

Restaurants Canada (formerly the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association) is a national association comprising 30,000 businesses in every segment of the foodservice industry, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and their suppliers. Through advocacy, research, and member programs and services, Restaurants Canada is dedicated to helping its members in every community grow and prosper.

Canada’s restaurant industry directly employs more than 1.1 million Canadians, contributes $68 billion a year to the Canadian economy (including commercial and non-commercial foodservice), and serves more than 18 million customers every day.

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