I want to report a store for violating credit card agreement -- worth the trouble?

Yesterday, I got ice cream at a place in the mall. After the purchase was totalled up (at more than $13 for the four of us!), I handed my Visa card to the kid at the register. She politely told me that there was a 25 cent charge for using credit cards. I told her that that was a violation of her store’s merchant agreement with Visa and not to charge me. She insisted and I’m not about to argue with the poor high school girl who is really just trying to do what her boss told her to do. The girl even got the two other teens on duty to confirm that they must charge the quarter for the credit card, explaining that they get charged for accepting the card. My wife was losing patience with me for arguing about a stupid quarter.

Now, this is clearly in violation of the merchant agreement for accepting Visa branded cards. From the Visa website:

The website goes on to explain that I should contact my card issuer and they have access to the forms required to make a complaint.

I don’t think it’s about the quarter. If I can afford thirteen dollar ice cream, I can squeeze out another quarter. However, if the shop makes 100 credit transactions a day is open for 360 days per year, that is $9000 per year that is being robbed from customers.

So, would you bother? It really bugs the c**p out of me. Am I just being petty?

Yes and yes. :smiley:

It is petty, but if you don’t call people on the little things, they’ll try to get away with the big things. Don’t hassle the hired help, but raise hell with the owner and the credit card company.

Why are you paying for ice-cream with a credit card anyway?

No, I wouldn’t bother complaining about it. Visa doesn’t care, and if it’s a small business then they probably are getting stung by Visa for accepting the card. I don’t see a problem with them charging you the 25c fee- lots of places here do it, FWIW.

Moved from CS to IMHO.

I would do it. I’ve gotten irritated over the ID request in violation of the merchant agreement issue (but never reported it) and never been affected yet by the minimum charge issue, but this is the one issue that I would feel strongly enough to report. And if I weren’t with someone who was bothered by making an issue of it, I’d probably see if I could bring in a manager (or maybe give the ice cream back and head someplace else).

Heh, just today I went to Ben & Jerry’s and bought a single scoop for about $4.75. God forbid you ever go there. Damn straight I charged it with no problems, though. :smiley:

Definitely go through the hassle. Just because you don’t like the law doesn’t mean you can break it. If the shop owner was really hurting that much, he’d be hounding his congressman to change the law. Report him.

Let’s be clear here, there’s no law about this. It’s a private contract. It’s up to Visa/MC if they want to enforce it, and as I stated in one of the many other threads on this subject, they won’t. That is their source of revenue and it’s a case of biting the hand that feeds them if they actually took action by suspending their merchant account.

Well maybe.

It might just be the CC companies that are doing the robbing. Are you mad at them? Mad enough to cancel your card? I’d love to see some figures on how much the CC companies make on transaction fees and the like. That’s why stores are resorting to this. For whatever reason people have gotten out of the habit of carrying cash. Convenience I suppose. That cost the merchant money. Sure it’s part of the cost of doing business but I think they have a right to adjust their store policies to make sure their profit margin is acceptable. You have to sell a bunch of ice cream to pay for employees and a location. Defraying $9000 a year doesn’t seem like much to me. Anything that cost the store money has to be considered when structuring their policies.

The fact is VSA has no intention of enforcing their own contract tells me consumers just have to understand and make their decisions accordingly. Over the years customers told merchants that low price was more important than customer service. That’s why we have big chains employing a bunch of part time kids who don’t know and don’t care. But we’ll still see threads complaining about customer service.

Now we want convenience that costs the merchant extra money and the banks money, but we still don’t think it should cost extra. The American consumer is a wee but spoiled.

I’ve heard that debit card transactions don’t cost the merchant? Is that true? If so why? What’s the difference in processing? It occurs to me that companies that provide these services could make it simple. A basic monthly fee that covers the equipment it’s maintenance and X number of transactions.

Related Pit thread.

Personally, I would go ahead and report them. The thing is, if the fee is so much that the vendor thinks they should pass that charge on to the customer, then they simply shouldn’t accept credit cards.

There is a wonderful little Chinese restaraunt near my work – we call the lady there the Chinese Soup Nazi, she is so much like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. It is the best Chinese food around, and dirt cheap. She doesn’t take credit cards. She takes cash or checks – and the only people who complain about her not taking credit cards are the people who have never eaten there before.

Seriously, if the product is worth it, you will go no matter what their policy. If the ice cream shop can’t afford to pay the fees without ripping off the customer, they should not have the priviledge of accepting the cards.

How honest am I permitted to be in the forum regarding my opinion of the original poster?

Try http://www.merchantaccountforum.com/top_merchant_accounts/

In general you can be as honest as you like, without ‘flaming’ or using personal insults toward another poster.

I don’t know about the US but in Canada debit transactions are charged (or were 5 years ago when I worked phone support for the processing company) at a 2 to 25 cents per transaction depending on the volume of business you are bringing. The biggest difference in the charge is that the credit card companies also tack on a percentage charge in addition to the flat fee. I am not sure but I would posit that the extra charge is to make up for the fact that credit card fraud is easier to pull than debit card fraud (in Canada these are two separate cards so I am not sure if this applies to the credit card/debit cards in the States)

The processing cycle is almost identical between debit and credit card transactions in Canada. You swipe your card and the terminal contacts the processing company. That company switches to your bank and if it is a debit card directs the bank to transfer the money to the merchant account. If it is a credit card it checks the balance and puts a pre-authorization hold on the funds. The transaction is stored in the swipe machine and downloaded to the processing company (usually nightly). The processing company sorts the transactions by card type, puts the transactions on magnetic tape and forwards to the credit card company so they can process the transaction and forward the money to the appropriate merchant account.

How they deal with the issue is not your call to make, and frankly this is simplistic and naive.

Good for her. Merchants vary, their choices about how to do business vary, and the consequences vary. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

This wording reveals a lot. You see it as your right as a customer to pay in a way that costs the merchant money and reduces profit but you refer to the merchants act of passing that cost on to you as ripping you off. No mention of the CC company’s role.

Using credit cards is not a privilege for anybody involved, merchant, consumer, or CC company. It’s not an inalienable right. It is a business arrangement plain and simple. If you don’t think the stores product or service is worth it then don’t go there. That’s your choice. The merchant has a right to decide what policies he wants his business to have and which policies are the right balance of good customer service and profitability. The success or failure of his business are the consequences of his choices. The outrage should be aimed at the CC companies who buy politicians and policies that allow them to bend over th e merchant and the consumer.
The consumer also makes choices which have a very real affect on the market place, such as I prefer cheap prices over better customer service, or, I would rather carry a card I can swipe everywhere than cash. That service and the industry that supports it costs money to maintain. Why should you the customer who wants that service think it shouldn’t cost you anything? That’s a totally unrealistic expectation and frankly a bit selfish.

Pointing to the merchant agreement is another unrealistic reaction. The reason so many stores are doing things like that and getting away with it is because the CC companies are getting rich and have no intention of enforcing their own agreement. If you’re so outraged tear up you card and send it back with a letter of complaint. If you won’t do that then don’t whine about the merchants. It seems completely unfair to me to lay the blame solely on the merchant. Suck it up and deal with the consequences of your need for convenience.

would you bother? Depends on my mood. I’m gonna say that probably 99% of the time I would not, being much too lazy to bother.

I usually protest these types of things by not returning to the establishment.

Am I just being petty? ::shrug:: I dunno. I would say not. If you were trying to take it out on the young lady who was just doing her job - then yes. But you are instead protesting the establishment and I have no problem with that.

Of course. If you look at that massive pit thread that we just had about this, I tell an anecdote about how I forced a local chain store to change their policy and remove the big engraved plaque declaring this policy by reporting them.

Yes, you should report them. Pleasant local small businesses are a plague, and we should all assist Visa in its efforts to destroy them by taking a bite out of their already razor thin profit margins.

Yes report it, they have a dishonest business practice and are hurting consumers with bait and switch like tactics, not switching the product but the price.

They are hurting other small businesses who honor their agreements by discrediting the use of CC’s at small businesses.