Friday, June 15, 2012

Credit Card Business Practices

Over the years I've made a lot of purchases at businesses and restaurants using both credit and debit cards, and have become familiar with the various practices regarding same.  Some stores and restaurants have a business model whereby they eat the cost of allowing customers to use credit and debit cards to make purchases, accepting that doing so reduces their profit.  Some places will choose to charge a fee for all purchases or purchases under a certain dollar amount in an attempt to lessen this hit to the profits.  Some places choose to not allow certain types of credit cards (like American Express, which is notorious for the percentage it charges merchants for using its system), or to not allow credit cards at all, limiting purchases to point of sale via debit cards.

This evening, though, I saw an example of what I would consider to be an extremely unethical practice regarding credit and debit card purchases.  We visited the Tapioca Express in Union City to beat the heat with some pearl drinks.  I couldn't help noticing the sign by the cash register explaining their policy regarding credit and debit cards.  Their policy said that only debit cards were accepted and that using same would result in a 49 cent surcharge regardless of amount.  The kicker, though was that the sign said that the reason for the surcharge was that "the credit card company was charging the 49 cents."

Talk about your out and out lie.  The credit card company wasn't the reason for Tapioca Express charging 49 cents for debit card transactions.  The credit card company charges Tapioca Express X amount of money per debit card transaction.  Tapioca Express has CHOSEN to charge customers 49 cents per debit card transaction to try to alleviate the fees charged to it by various banks.  Trying to pass the "blame" for the debit card surcharge to the "credit card companies" is a gross misrepresentation and distortion of the facts.

Mind you, I don't have any particular qualms about how a business sets its credit and debit card practices.  The economy is tough, and not every business in the world is in a position to be able to absorb fees charged to it by various financial institutions for credit or debit card use.  What I do have an issue with is when a business lies about what it is doing.  Just tell the truth about the nature of the charges, or better yet, just say what the charges are, period without an explanation.  Don't lie and try to blame the surcharges on the credit card companies, your mom, global warming or rent being too damn high.

Let's face it - if you're willing to lie about why you're trying to charge 49 cents for paying with a debit card, what else are you lying about?  What other unethical practices are you performing?  And in the end, why should I bring you repeat business?  Food for thought, or in this case, pearl drinks for thought?


  1. Did you still get your pearl drinks from them? Will you be boycotting them now?

  2. I won't be boycotting them, but I also won't be going out of my way to patronize that particular location. They're franchised, so I'll likely take my business to the Fremont location, which has really nice servers and has no issue taking credit cards, or the Newark location, which while they have a surcharge for debit cards, doesn't try to lie about why they do it.

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    A Ladybug's Life