Speakers Corner: No cash accepted is unacceptable, some consumers say

Businesses can now pass along some credit card fees to consumers. In this week's speakers corner, Pat Taney speaks with some consumers who rallying against the new rule.

By Pat Taney

You may have heard you may be paying more if you use your credit card for purchases, prompting some to speak out against businesses that declare ‘no cash allowed.’

Lynn Rae from Newmarket is one of them. When it comes to shopping, she said she plans ahead.

“I take out money every week to pay for groceries, gas and other items,” Rae said.

That decision means her credit card doesn’t get used very much.

“I pay with cash for 90 per cent of the things I purchase,” she said.

Rae’s method got her out of debt 20 years ago, but at some stores her preferred form of payment isn’t accepted.

“I will walk out of a business before I will be made to pay with a debit or credit card,” she said.

There is more motivation now to do just that, Rae said. Retailers across Canada — except in Quebec — are now allowed to pass along credit card processing fees to consumers, up to 2.4 per cent per purchase.

“I don’t like to be nickeled-and-dimed for everything,” she said.

Rae said she has advocated for all businesses to accept cash long before the change allowing fees to be passed on to shoppers, but there is no legislation that requires businesses to do so.

RELATED: Canadian businesses considering credit card surcharge as rules change, survey finds

Karl Littler, a spokesperson with the Retail Council of Canada, said he isn’t sure a law forcing business operators to accept cash is the right way to go. But the organization still recommended retailers take cash.

“In general, we believe that merchants should continue to accept cash and there are a variety of reasons for that,” he said.

“There are some people who simply don’t have credit cards. They may even be marginal enough economically that they don’t have debit cards.”

Littler said while the law gives retailers the right to charge extra surcharges if you’re paying with a credit card, it doesn’t mean all stores will.

“Due to competition, I don’t think we’ll see much changed here,” he said.

“The surcharge is a legal option available to merchants. That doesn’t mean they’re going to take it up. It’s already an option in the U.S., it’s already an option in Europe, and the vast majority of merchants don’t surcharge at all.”

Even so, Rae said she still believes cash is king — even above debit cards, which are not subject to the same fees as credit cards.

“A debit card is still an impulse purchase,” she said.

“If I use a debit card, I will spend more money. There are no emotions involved when you pay with credit or debit until you get your statement. There are emotions involved when you feel that money slipping through your fingers.”

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