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Credit card firms face fee class action

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Credit card holders who have been stung by $30 late fees are joining a class action over what lawyers call “unlawful penalties”.

Lawyers will argue GE Capital Finance and HSBC’s late fees are an unlawful penalty because they don’t reflect the actual loss to the finance companies.

Steven Lewis from ACA Lawyers said the action was about justice for anyone who has had to pay a late fee to those credit card providers.

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“This includes people who have been stung by balance transfer deals and the customers of Australia’s major retailers,” Mr Lewis said on Sunday.

He said GE Capital charges $20 to $30 in late fees, depending on the credit card, while HSBC charges a $30 fee for customers who fail to make credit card payments on time.

“We believe late payment fees are contractual penalties and therefore cannot be enforced, and customers who have paid these fees are entitled to sue HSBC and GE Capital to get this money back,” Mr Lewis said.

The two companies provide credit card facilities for Coles, Harvey Norman, JB Hifi, The Good Guys, Bing Lee and Myer, among others.

Mr Lewis said anyone who believed they had been stung by late fees could join the class action.

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