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Surcharge

June 22, 1986

I thought it might be of interest to your theatergoing readers that several box offices in town quietly add a surcharge to your bill if you pay or reserve seats by credit card.

They say this is to make up for the interest the credit company charges them.

What they don't tell you is that this practice is illegal according to Civil Code No. 1748.1.

FRED WILLARD

Los Angeles

TITLE 1.3. CREDIT CARDS Section

1748.1. Surcharges; treble damages; attorney's fees and costs; venue; any sales transaction; legislative intent (New).

1748.1. Surcharges; treble damages; attorney's fees and costs; venue; any sales transaction; legislative intent.

(a) No retailer in any sales transaction may impose a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means. A retailer may, however, offer discounts for the purpose of inducing payment by cash, check, or other means not involving the use of a credit card, provided that the discount is offered to all prospective buyers.

(b) Any retailer who willfully violates the provisions of this section by imposing a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card and who fails to pay that amount to the cardholder within 30 days of a written demand by the cardholder of the retailer by certified mail, shall be liable to the cardholder for three times the amount at which actual damages are assessed. The cardholder shall also be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in the action.

A cause of action under this section may be brought in small claims court, if it does not exceed the jurisdiction of that court, or in any other appropriate court.

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