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  • Limetree

Pet Peeve #2 – Cash or Card?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Sometimes the smallest things can be irritating – petty peeves.

It was my wedding anniversary the other day – 44 years, for better or worse.

We decided to go out for dinner. Since our chosen restaurant is a BYO my wife asked me to pick up a bottle of a bottle of her favorite Prosecco – LaMarca. Sure I said, but I'm dry today. I thought your bloodwork was this morning, she said. Yep, but I'm cleansing, you'll have to drink for 2. I can drive. (I had decided to extend my rare day of sobriety).

So I drove uptown and after a somewhat prolonged search for a parking space I entered the liquor store. I knew they sold the small, individual bottles – I didn't really want to saddle my wife with the task of drinking a whole bottle – 4-pack $15.49. Except it wasn't a 4-pack it was a 3-pack.

I pointed this out to the cashier, adding that if that was the advertised price for a 4-pack, then the 3-pack must surely be cheaper. It wasn't. I entered my debit card into the digital reader and before the screen moved on I just had time to notice that I was charged $15.49 plus tax, total of $18.10.

Of course I protested since that was $2 over the advertised price. There followed a cross-purposed, back-and-forth discussion about an appropriate refund since the card had already been charged, until she pointed to a sign hidden among the countertop impulse purchases that read All Digital Transactions $2.95 surcharge. Well, I never saw that, I said. But, she was nice enough to give me a cash refund for my original purchase and then allow me to repay in cash to avoid the surcharge.

Still, I thought the surcharge a little excessive and told the lady so. I understand credit card companies charge you a fee, but debit cards? Everyone is doing it, she said. Well, you're the first store I've seen – yeah, I know gas stations have a cash or card price.

Apparently I was right. It is illegal for merchants to surcharge a debit card (the Durbin Amendment). I guess a lot of merchants are breaking federal law. Sure, the merchant is just trying to recoup transaction charges from credit companies but debit card transactions are much lower and shouldn't be worth breaking the law.

It's a strange transitional world between cash and card. My cash payment was recently refused at a brewery – sorry cards only. Perhaps there are some places that take both but charge an inconvenience fee for cash purchases?

And then we can get into the area of pre-charged tips that come with your restaurant purchase – but that's another story for another day. I just hope the wife enjoys the prosecco.

Do you have any Pet Peeves? Tony Forder


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