Compensation plan meets cool response from credit card firms

Series Title
Series Details Vol.7, No.7, 22.2.01, p22
Publication Date 22/02/2001
Content Type

Date: 22/02/01

Credit card companies are pouring cold water on plans to set up an EU-wide compensation system for consumers who have been wrongly charged.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein wants to create a legislative framework for refunds, but industry insiders accuse him of interfering in the market.

They claim many firms already offer high levels of consumer protection as a marketing tool - for example to differentiate between brands or distinguish premium cards from basic ones offering low rates.

They also argue that any enforced legal changes would lag behind developments in one of the fastest-moving sectors of the financial services industry.

"We think that legislation is not the right solution - especially with the trend within industry to develop measures to improve secure payments over the Internet," said American Express European Affairs manager Marjolein Raes.

Officials say mandatory rules may initially cover payments made improperly or which were unauthorised by users. Other non- legislative measures, such as schemes designed to resolve disputes over non-delivery of products, could be added.

The blueprint follows concerns that the EU is littered with schemes that distort the single market for credit card services and are less effective than the US 'charge-back' system.

But some banking groups are open to the plan. "We welcome the Commission's intention to examine whether a charge-back system is needed," said Chris Rawlins of the British Banking Association. "It will facilitate the development of cross-border e-commerce within the EU."

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