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Consumers face steeper e-commerce costs in event of hard Brexit

27 August 2018 - 10:38 by Graham Miller

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If politicians fail to negotiate an effective Brexit deal and the UK leaves the EU with no specific agreements on trade in place, Brits can expect to face steeper costs when shopping online.

This is according to internal documents produced by the government which indicate that in such an eventuality, processing fees on card payments made from within the UK to other parts of the continent would increase dramatically. This would force retailers to put up prices to accommodate the rise in operational costs.

At the moment there is an EU-wide ban on retailers slapping higher fees on transactions that involve a particular type of payment card, which is obviously an advantage for shoppers. But if the UK decouples from the EU without retaining an involvement in this aspect of commerce, it would give outlets free rein to do as they please.

The annual cost of these fees was estimated at £166 million, but they were outlawed earlier this year. If they are reinstated, which seems likely if a no-deal Brexit occurs, then people can expect to pay more when carrying out safe shopping online.

Of course the question of whether or not a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ will take place is still up in the air, with government ministers claiming that an acceptable resolution will be found in time and that it is merely taking precautions to encourage businesses to prepare for this worst case scenario.

Even if a deal of some kind is hammered out in the next few months, it seems inevitable that Brexit will end up hitting consumers hardest, with the pound already weakening against other currencies and making it harder to enjoy cross-border online shopping to the same extent as in the past.