Merchants in Pennsylvania could soon start charging an extra fee to customers who pay with a credit card, but few of them will.

"We have talked to dozens across the country, and we don't know of any that will be doing it," said J. Craig Shearman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based industry organization.

And, actually, many of them can't.

As part of a settlement in a lengthy regulatory battle between retailers and credit card companies, merchants could pass on so-called "swipe fees" to customers starting Sunday.

It would allow retailers, restaurants and other entities to charge an extra 2 to 4 percent to customers who use MasterCard or Visa credit cards.

Rules: Though most retailers dis-

agreed with the decision and spoke out against it, Shearman said, many of them couldn't charge the extra fees anyway.

Because of some provisions, retailers would have to charge the same surcharge in all of their locations. Because there are 10 states with surcharge bans, any retailer with a location in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma or Texas could not charge a surcharge anywhere.

Another rule in the settlement would require retailers to charge equal surcharges to MasterCard and Visa users as those who swipe other cards, such as American Express and Discover. But American Express rules say customers can't have a surcharge.


So if any retailer accepts American Express, they can't charge any other credit card holder.

"Those rules eliminate merchants in 10 states, national chains, regional chains and any store that accepts American Express," Shearman said.

And because retailers that intend to pass on the surcharge would have to file paperwork with MasterCard and Visa, small stores won't have time to jump through hoops, he said.

"Mom and pop shops don't have time for that kind of bureaucracy," Shearman said.

Local stores: Locally, many York County business owners either weren't aware of the surcharge or said they would not implement it.

Bon-Ton, which has dual headquarters in Springettsbury Township and Milwaukee, will not charge a swipe fee, according to spokeswoman Mary Kerr.

Giant will not tack on any additional fees to credit card users, according to spokesman Chris Brand.

Weis also will not charge a swipe fee, according to spokesman Dennis Curtin.

"If anybody is going to charge an extra fee, it would probably be an airline or doctor's office," Shearman said.

But representatives from the Pennsylvania Medical Society and The Aviation Council of Pennsylvania said it's unlikely.

"It's not on anyone's radar screen here. I would think the person who charges first would be at a competitive disadvantage," said Chuck Moran, spokesman for the medical society.

Bob Rockmaker, executive director of the aviation council, said he has heard "zero" about swipe fees being added on in any segment of aviation.

"(Merchants) are probably already building those fees into their existing price points," he said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoo