The Commerce Commission says if businesses charge additional surcharges over Easter, they must clearly disclose them and accurately describe the reasons for the surcharge to avoid breaching the Fair Trading Act 1986.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings says businesses are now routinely using surcharges to recover additional costs such as higher staff wages payable on public holidays.
"Ultimately a business can charge what it likes for its products or services and consumers will make their own decisions about whether to pay or go elsewhere," she says.
"However, if a surcharge is applied, it must be clearly disclosed and the reasons for the surcharge must not mislead customers."
The Commission says businesses must do two key things when applying a surcharge:
- Ensure customers are made aware of the surcharge before they make a decision to purchase, so they can decide whether to pay it or go elsewhere.
- Accurately describe the reason for the surcharge. For example, businesses must not claim that their surcharge on Easter Sunday is because it is a public holiday, as the only public holidays over the Easter weekend are Good Friday and Easter Monday.
The Commerce Commission says consumers who feel they have been misled by a surcharge can contact them on 0800 943 600 or via its website complaint form.