Saturday 28 March, 2020

No minimum spend to use CarIFS debit cards

Report merchants who enforce a minimum spend policy.

Customer complaints about merchants implementing a minimum spend for CarIFS issued debit cards as the form of payment have surged and CarIFS is saying that is a ‘no-no’.

“No minimum spend,” says CarIFS Caribbean Integrated Financial Services Inc. (CarIFS), the technological infrastructure that allows individuals and organisations to use their debit cards to access funds from their savings and chequing accounts at ATMs and Point-of-Sale locations across the island.

CarIFS in a press release issued today that it is reminding merchants that they should not implement a minimum spend requirement on consumers who use their debit cards as a form of payment.

This announcement comes in response to numerous complaints from consumers who were not allowed to use their debit cards for transactions which fell below some merchants’ required transaction amount. Upon installation of a Point-of-Sale terminal, merchants enter into contracts with their individual financial institution and, by extension, with CarIFS. CarIFS Regulations specifically prohibit merchants from directly or indirectly enforcing a minimum spend requirement for Point-of-Sale purchases. The CarIFS network, which allows debit cardholders to have access to their money in real time, promotes its services as a safer alternative to traveling with large amounts of cash.

“We want consumers to have a safe option to pay,” explained Tony Del Castilho, General Manager of Prism Financial Processing Services Ltd – CarIFS’ management company, “but with an imposed minimum spend, consumers are forced to travel with cash, which can be a riskier payment option.”

Explaining that the CarIFS network is a fast, safe and convenient way to pay, Del Castilho noted that CarIFS transactions only take on average - 12 seconds and reiterated that consumers have the right to use their debit card for transactions of any value.

Del Castilho emphasised that a merchant must not require a minimum transaction amount in order to accept a valid CarIFS-branded debit card for payment and that consumers should not be required to purchase additional items or spend more than intended in order to be able to use their debit cards. The practice, by some merchants, of adding a fee or surcharge on card payments is also against regulations. The General Manager encouraged merchants to adhere to the policy, which is intended to benefit both merchants and consumers.

Del Castilho explained that stipulating a minimum spend policy may actually hurt businesses:

“It is more likely that a consumer will walk away from a purchase than be forced to spend more than they planned,” he explained. The General Manager noted that CarIFS has been educating both consumers and merchants about the company’s rules and regulations via CarIFS’ Facebook page and explained that the company would be stepping up its education programme to ensure that consumers understand their rights.

“We have been receiving positive feedback from customers since promoting the ‘no minimum spend’ on our Facebook page,” Del Castilho explained. “People have been calling in and we are having the necessary conversations with merchants.”

He encouraged consumers who encountered a “minimum spend policy” to continue to report these encounters to CarIFS. Specifically, Del Castilho is asking consumers who encounter a merchant with a minimum spend policy or an added fee/surcharge, to verify the bank that owns the point of sale terminal and contact the CarIFS team at 228-8382 with the relevant information. Merchants’ bank information can be found on stickers attached to each merchant’s Point-of-Sale card machine.

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