- Centurion Member
- Posts: 1468
- Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:20 pm
- Location: United States
We've probably discussed this before, but it popped up on Twitter again this morning:
The settlements of class action lawsuits against Visa, MC, and Amex included an alteration of the merchant agreements that allow merchants to enact a surcharge for customers that pay with credit cards.
This pisses me off to no end. Every thoughtful business owner accounts for the cost of taking credit cards when pricing their goods or services. The argument the merchants advanced, that it would create savings and increase transparency that they could pass on to customers, is completely disingenuous.
I don't believe for a second that retailers who choose to take advantage of their new surcharging ability intend to offer a true "cash discount" to customers. That $50 bag of dog food isn't going to be $48.50 if you pay by cash. It's going to be $51.50 if you pay by card.
Retail pricing is and will remain opaque. Any transparency is an illusion and a credit card surcharge is not going to help. Merchants are completely happy keeping their other costs of doing business a secret: lease or mortgage payments, employee costs, and depreciation are the same as credit card processing fees. Every one of them is already passed directly to the customer. If you want to tell me that a surcharge for paying by credit card is in my best interest as an educated consumer, post your tax return on the door. Let me see every hidden cost I'm paying.
In fact, while we're at it, please post your political party affiliation and religious persuasion on the door as well. I want to make sure I agree with your opinions and morals before I support you with my dollar. The libertarian economic ideal of perfect information doesn't stop with a note on the register telling me I have to pay 3% more if I whip out my plastic. (That's tongue-in-cheek, if you couldn't tell.)
I can only hope that competitive pressures will keep merchants from charging more for credit card payments. Some large retailers have already decided that they would not utilize surcharges - Costco, WalMart, Home Depot, and Target have all issued statements.
I'm also glad that 10 states, including my own, have enacted laws making surcharges illegal.
Keep an eye out for opportunistic merchants. Vote with your dollar and tell them why you're walking out the door without making a purchase.
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