Aldi in hot water: What the German chain isn't telling shoppers

It’s easy to think Aldi can do no wrong: they have cheap prices, a no-nonsense approach and have been soaring against shopping giants that have been in the business for decades. But one thing Aldi didn’t reveal to shoppers is a bit of a biggie – they had not been telling all of their customers about the fees for using credit cards or ‘tap and go’ cards.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission gave Aldi six months to disclose the 0.5 per cent surcharge but it has still not been done, whether through signs at the entrance of stores, or at the registers. There are some stores which do notify you either in signs or verbally, but there appears to be a lot more that are not doing the right thing by their shoppers.

Many shoppers do not realise that there is a surcharge and Fairfax visited a number of Aldi supermarkets this week to see what the disclosure is like – there’s only a tiny printed sticker at the register in most stores. Customers said that they wanted bigger signs or no surcharges.

According to Life Hacker Australia, charging customers a fee for using a specific payment is not illegal but customers must be clearly made aware that they apply. In ASIC’s investigation, that didn’t always happen.

An ASIC review of signage in a select number of ALDI supermarkets found that the 0.5% credit card surcharge was disclosed in some stores by a sign above the registers and, in others, by a sticker at the registers. In two stores, there were no signs or stickers.

For credit card payments where a PIN or signature is used, disclosure of the 0.5% surcharge is made on the credit card terminal screen after customers insert or swipe their card to pay for their purchase. ASIC considered that this was too late, particularly in stores where there was no other disclosure.

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Aldi is the only supermarket to impose a surcharge on those who use their credit card or debit cards to tap (there isn’t a fee if you insert or swipe a debit card). Other supermarkets do not charge extra, and under the ASIC Act, a failure to adequately disclose surcharges, or creating the impression that surcharges do not apply, may be misleading or deceptive.

This is a disappointing revelation as shoppers are feeling a bit deceived, especially because they innocently believed that the low prices came to an exact total at the register, and didn’t have another fee on top. Currently, there are 367 Aldi supermarkets in Australia, and one could say that they are taking quite a lot of money from these transactions, considering their profit last year was $6 million, according to a SMH report.


So tell us today, have you been to Aldi lately? Were you advised of the surcharge? Will this make you think twice about shopping at Aldi?