GE Money will refund a $25 establishment fee to approximately 2,500 MasterCard customers following discussions with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
GEâ€™s announcement follows concerns raised by ASIC regarding the following statement on its website:
â€˜There is no annual fee for your GO MasterCard. That means it costs you nothing to have it – pay nothing and make it your card of choice year after year.â€™
An investigation by ASIC found that while existing customers did not incur charges, new customers were charged a $25 establishment fee.
ASICâ€™s Executive Director of Consumer Protection, Mr Greg Tanzer, said while the fee was disclosed in other material, ASIC found that the representation was definitive and likely to mislead customers.
â€˜This case highlights the need to ensure that definitive statements in advertising or promotional material are accurate. The fact that an investigation of all available material will provide consumers with a thorough understanding of the product does not excuse representations that are on their face likely to misleadâ€™, he said.
GE has now refunded the establishment fee to all consumers who applied for the MasterCard online. It has also removed the statement from the GO MasterCard website.
Mr Tanzer acknowledged GEâ€™s co-operation in responding to ASICâ€™s concerns.
â€˜The issue of consumer redress in relation to misleading or potentially misleading conduct is a very important one. In that context, ASIC welcomes GEâ€™s decision to refund the establishment fee to all potentially affected customers.â€™
The GO MasterCard was widely advertised through other means. The statement considered by ASIC to be misleading did not appear as part of the broader advertising campaign, which included television and radio advertising, brochures, and in-store materials.