The problem can be small - KFC, for instance, now charges $0.39 per transaction if you use a credit card or debit card. Or it can be big. Wo Fat, an otherwise great neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas, now refuses to accept plastic money for charges under $10. That new rule nearly turned into an embarrassment for me last night, as I generally don't carry cash.
But whatever the reason, too many retail businesses have forgotten that the banking fees for taking credit cards or debit cards has always been part of the cost of doing business - and frankly, on a per-transaction basis, not a very big cost of doing business. Now, they are starting to charge clients for using plastic money, or they're putting floors on chargeable transactions.
What they don't realize is that consumers may not like this - in fact, a growing number of consumers really object to this practice. I'm one of them.
It's really not about the money - hey, it's only $0.39 per transaction. No, it's about respect. This fee makes me feel like either a "second class customer" - not as good or worthy as cash customers; or it makes me feel like a dupe - an idiot willing to pay a surcharge for a common transaction most retailers ignore by absorbing the cost.
Just because it's legal for a company to do this doesn't make it a smart move. In the case of KFC, I'm now preferentially buying "family meals" at A&W/Long John Silver, right across the street from my local KFC. A&W doesn't charge me a fee, and their food is excellent (for drive-through) and comparably priced.
As far as Wo Fat is concerned, I've been a regular customer for 23 years - they serve the best egg fu yong in town. But their lunch is $5.50 and their dinner is $7.75, so either way, I'll have to pay cash or go somewhere else. Since I don't routinely carry cash (because everybody now takes debit cards), I'll have to find another good Chinese restaurant. In Las Vegas, that won't be hard.
A word to the wise retailer. Do not risk pissing off loyal customers over anti-consumer policies that at best pay you a marginal fee ($0.39 for a $25 meal at KFC) or help you avoid fees for smaller transactions.
And to KFC - it will take 65 meals to make up, at $0.39 each - just one weekly transaction you're losing when I take my business across the street. And since I was buying the $25 family meal each week, you need a LOT of new customers to make up for the one you've just pissed off.