Numerous new fees appear on merchant card acquiring invoices08th June 2017
What has CMSPI found?
Through the continuous optimisation of our current client invoices, experts at CMSPI have found evidence of numerous misapplied fees appearing on invoices over the past few weeks. These fees (either new, or existing rate increases) are set to cost merchants between 5-6 figures annually and are going unnoticed through internal audit processes.
Card acquiring invoices are notoriously complex and merchants lack transparency of their entire cost of card acceptance. Fees are commonly labelled differently supplier to supplier, or bundled together with other charges – making drilling down into the details of each charge extremely difficult.
Whether these fees are unfair, charged incorrectly or even by accident, CMSPI has discovered evidence across various acquirers, merchant sectors and card payment profiles. Merchants across the board are being affected and even those thoroughly auditing their invoices do not have the visibility to do so accurately.
Why is this happening?
As with any widespread industry changes, such as the January 2017 changes to scheme fees following the Visa Inc. takeover of Visa Europe, there is a necessary element of trust between a merchant and their acquiring partner(s). Most merchants expect, but can only assume, that their acquirer will implement any industry changes correctly.
Unfortunately for merchants, CMSPI often observes that industry changes provide an opportunity for discretionary changes by acquirers. These opportunistic and independent variations, often in the form of replacement fees, are going unnoticed by merchants who are already expecting to see the effects of industry mandated changes on their invoices.Wayne Ashall | Senior Consultant
What should merchants do?
Some increases are being communicated to merchants in advance of a change, whist other merchants are receiving amendments to fees unknowingly. So, how do merchants know whether this change is in-line with the market, and how do they know whether this truly is a “direct pass-through” of an industry-wide change?
It is imperative that the current charges are reviewed for anything above and beyond the contract agreement. This can be a complex and opaque process, regardless of the merchant’s charging structure. While searching for a new line item on an invoice might seem straight forward, the evidence from CMSPI’s client base highlights that this is not the only method adopted by acquirers. Newly added, or amended, fees are often bundled into other areas that are simply unrecognisable to merchants.