Texas Department of Banking Tells Local Businesses To Stop Debit Surcharge Fees

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BRYAN / COLLEGE STATION, Texas The State of Texas is stepping in after a number of complaints about local businesses adding a surcharge when customers use debit cards.

A law made it illegal last September.

But as News 3 reports the Texas Department of Banking is still looking at how to enforce it.

Bryan Resident Randall Walton has noticed a 49 cent surcharge every time he uses his debit card at some area restaurants.

It's something the Texas Legislature made illegal last year.

"It is definitely something that definitely affects you know myself not so much but it does affect a lot of people negatively," said Walton.

He filed a complaint against Shipley's Donuts off Briarcrest Drive in Bryan, Cici's Pizza on Texas Avenue in College Station, La Bodega and Jesse's Taqueria & Bakery with the Texas Department of Banking.

The agency has sent letters to the businesses telling them to stop adding the surcharges.

"Our business is mostly card just like any other business," explained, Jesse G. Ocaña who owns Jesse's Taqueria and Bakery in Bryan.

He was surprised by the letter and says he may have to go to a cash or credit card only policy in the future.

He says it costs him 49 cents each time a debit card is used and they tried to absorb the cost when they first opened, but they were spending thousands of dollars in transaction fees.

"We don't see a red penny out of that and we don't want to cheat anybody of any money or anything like that," he added.

Bob Bacon is the Deputy Commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking and says they've received 11 complaints across the state since the law went into effect.

About half are from our area.

"At this time several of them have disputed that it is against the law and at this point we are gathering all the information and strongly considering consulting the with Attorney General on what to do next. Interestingly the bill that passed did not provide any enforcement authority to our state agency or to another state agency regarding this matter," said Bacon.

The Cici's Pizza Owner in College Station gave us literature saying they don't believe they are charging a surcharge but instead see it as offering a discount to pay by cash, credit or gift card.

Randall Walton is hoping to get some of his cents back.

"I mean the principle is a big part of it for me," he said.

The state says it will take a few weeks to sort these complaints out.

The Texas Department of Banking suggests you contact them to file a complaint and to also ask the merchant to explain any extra fees.

News 3 was unable to reach management at Shipley's Donuts by Target in Bryan or La Bodega for comment on this story.