Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Additional Madison On the Square questionable charges

You may think that I have it out for Madison “On the Square.”  I don’t, and it may only look that way.  I have always loved that show. However, they keep making these decisions that are questionable at best and are at worst are illegal.

Now, the latest decision is they have made is to charge an additional fee on top of the booth fee if an accepted artist wants to pay by credit card.  The fee is $20 for a double booth and $10 for a single booth.  I am not a lawyer but I am somewhat familiar with credit card fees.  As I understand this, it may not be illegal to charge the fee, but all the major credit card companies have clauses in their contracts that do not allow for this fee to be charged.  They have that fee so that people will use credit cards instead of paying cash or using personal checks.   This sounds to be like an illegal practice.  And that is only my opinion.  In addition, they could get away with it, if they told artists that they would give them a $10 or $20 discount is they paid in cash, but the Madison “Art Fair on the Square” is making it a penalty to pay by credit card.

I hope that artists will question this practice and put a stop to this.

I am going to forward this to Annik Dupaty, the Madison, AFOS, Director of Events and see what her response is.

I do come up with the same conclusion that I did for the jury blog I posted earlier in the week.  JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU SHOULD. And I’m not even sure that it applies if it is an illegal fee.  And again it appears as if Annik is more concerned with the bottom line than the ethical running of an organization.

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Comment by Larry Sanders on April 15, 2012 at 4:03pm

If this is indeed breaking the rules of credit cards contracts, it will take a applying artist who is accepted into these shows to lodge a compliant.  Those artists would have to accept the consequences of perhaps being "black balled" from the show in the future as retribution unless it could be done anonymously.

Comment by Annette Piper on April 2, 2012 at 6:47pm

Just keeps getting worse, doesn't it.

It's becoming a common practice down here in Australia with many different companies - insurance, supermarkets etc noting the additional charge if you elect to pay by credit card.     Previously it was just some small stores, particularly if you elected to pay by DC or Amex which have higher rates.  

Just another way to get you to pay for another of their costs of doing business really.

Comment by David Bjurstrom on March 31, 2012 at 4:54pm

The credit card companies, as far as I could tell on their websites allow a "convenience fee" for some governmental/public organizations but it's very limited.

As to the rules...

It's hard to find the exact rules within the VISA or Mastercard websites but it seems that charging such a surcharge for using the card or discount for not, is a violation of the cc company rules. My own cc processing company's rules don't allow it at all.

If one should feel they have had a merchant violate the rules, it can be reported online at these sites:

To VISA at :
And to Mastercard at:

I'm not advocating this one way or another. Just providing the information for anyone interested.

Comment by Lisa Foster on March 31, 2012 at 3:36pm

Jim, that's the way I understand it also. You can give a discount for cash but cannot charge extra for credit. However, how do utilities and the such get away with charging a convienence fee if you pay over the phone. Sometimes it's for credit card purchases or sometimes for bank withdrawl also. I've also seen 3% added to property taxes paid using a credit card.

Comment by Jim Parker on March 31, 2012 at 10:45am

i might add that the Visa rules are much the same, although I didn't look that up. <Insert editorial comment here: sheesh>

Comment by Jim Parker on March 31, 2012 at 10:44am

It's clearly against the credit card companies rules and regulations. The show should be called on it. Failure to remove the surcharge may result in the merchant account being cancelled, and penalties assessed.

From the Mastercard site, this document spells it out clearly:

5.11.2 Charges to Cardholders

A Merchant must not directly or indirectly require any Cardholder to pay a surcharge or any part of any Merchant discount or any contemporaneous finance charge in connection with a Transaction. A Merchant may provide a discount to its customers for cash payments. A Merchant is permitted to charge a fee (such as a bona fide commission, postage, expedited service or convenience fees, and the like) if the fee is imposed on all like transactions regardless of the form of payment used, or as the Corporation has expressly permitted in writing. For purposes of this Rule:

  1. A surcharge is any fee charged in connection with a Transaction that is not charged if another payment method is used.

  2. The Merchant discount fee is any fee a Merchant pays to an Acquirer so that the Acquirer will acquire the Transactions of the Merchant. 

The full document can be found here:

It's all in the wording.

Comment by Ruth Jellema on March 31, 2012 at 9:43am
I believe 4th st at St James Court is charging something like $15 extra for using a credit card
Comment by Jeremy Browne on March 31, 2012 at 9:23am

I have actually run into this before, but I am drawing a blank for what show (here in Canada). Te reason I was given when I questioned it was that they pay a fee of 3% on credit card purchases. Not that I agree, but that's what I was told. 

Sorry I can't be more specific, but I just can't remember what show it was.

Comment by mary johnston on March 30, 2012 at 9:37pm

No, I don't know of another that charge a fee to pay by CC....but I got my annual rejection from Madison so I won't have to worry about it!  I keep thinking..."maybe one year I will get into the show" so I can just go there from my cabin! :(  maybe next year.......

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 30, 2012 at 8:55pm

Does anyone know of any other shows that charge a fee if you pay by credit card?

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