Businesses in Qatar are not allowed to charge customers fees for using debit and credit cards when making a purchase, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has warned.
All card payments made through the point-of-sale system (using card machines) should be treated the same as cash payments, and must not incur commission fees.
Operators who are caught charging extra face having their contracts with the bank canceled, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.
The MEC added that it will be stepping up its inspection campaign to ensure traders and suppliers comply with the rules, as part of its effort to uphold Qatar’s consumer protection law (No. 8 of 2008).
Charging customers fees for using cards as payment is “contrary to the trends of the state and its vision on the support and development of banking services, as it is contrary to the directives of Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and the laws in force on consumer protection,” the statement said.
Customers should have the right to use cards for payment “without imposing any commissions or expenses in excess of the item price or wage service being advertised sales outlets and shops.”
A number of retailers and operators in Qatar currently add extra fees on top of the stated price for customers who pay for goods and services by debit or credit card and the MEC said it has received complaints about this practice.
In collaboration with QCB, the MEC has sent a circular to the managers of all outlets, reminding them of their obligations and asking them to advise all employees of the regulations, to avoid potential legal action or disciplinary procedures.
The MEC was unable to confirm to Doha News if this rule also applies to online purchases within Qatar.
Customers can lodge complaints against stores which continue to charge fees for card payments directly with the MEC’s consumer hotline – 16001, by emailing Info@mec.gov.qa or through Twitter.
QCB’s customer services protection department also allows consumers to file complaints through a form on its website.