Quebec's office de la protection du consommateur issued a press release this week that was quite a revelation: debit card fees are illegal.

That's right. All those random extra charges or minimum prices are officially against the law. Many prohibited fees are being employed when people are using debit cards in Montreal and Quebec, and it should not be happening.

With advice straight from the OPC, here's what to do in every debit card situation:

The Extra Charge

The price of a product is the price of a product, and any dep cashier cannot randomly tack on an extra 50 cents as a debit card use fee. Advertised price and government-regulated taxes are the only things you need to worry about, not some random store's added fees. Say no to additional debit card fees, because they're illegal.

The "Minimum $10" To Use Debit

Depanneurs throughout the city may enforce this only because they're a bit confused, and not just being malicious (I hope). Merchants are definitely allowed to set a minimum price for credit cards but debit cards are a grey area. Technically this isn't illegal, but its hella annoying. I'v personally gotten around this by bluffing that its officially not allowed (there's nothing saying it is, to be fair) or just asking nicely.

The "Warning"

This goes back to the last two situations, as a 'warning' could be used as justification for a surcharge. Not a thing. No warning of any sort, whether it be a visual or verbal, allows a cashier to charge you additional fees for using a debit card. They may argue that they let you know beforehand and all that jazz, but as said by the OPC "a warning is not enough."

The Taxi Cab Fee

Many of us have probably been in this situation before: hail a cab with no cash (spent it all at the bar), politley ask if the driver accepts debit (he/she does) and when it comes time to pay, you get a surprise extra charge for seemingly no reason. And there is no reason. A cab driver isn't allowed to charge you anything than what's on the metre in Montreal. If a cabbie outside of the city tries to do the same, report 'em here.

Your Trump Card

So you've politely told your local dep-guy/gal (or cabbie) that a surcharge is allowed, minimum amounts for debit cards aren't okay, and no amount of warning makes it all better. What do you do? Well the OPC stresses you should tell them their whole argument is based on illegal practices, and if they're still being douches about it, threaten to report them here. That should set 'em straight.

Have you been illegally charged for using a debit card?

For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte

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