How To Report Merchants For Requiring A Minimum Purchase Or Making You Show ID

Stores are violating their contract with the credit card companies if they set minimum or maximum charges, or force you to show ID in addition to your credit card (with the obvious exception being for age-limited purchases). Depending on your state and your card issuer, surcharges or “convenience fees” may be banned as well. The best way to straighten these guys out is to report them to the credit card company. People who have done so on the Credit Boards message board say that when they report a merchant, they get a letter from the credit card company and when they go back to the store, the shenanigans have stopped. Here’s all the contact infos for the credit card companies to file a merchant complaint, as well as links to merchant agreements, in case you feel like standing up for your consumer rights. Someone better warn Amy’s Ice Cream!

Visa
Phone Number: 1-800-VISA-911 (International: 1-410-581-9994). Or call the number on the back of your card
Mailing Address:
Visa U.S.A. Inc.
P.O. Box 194607
San Francisco, California 94119-4607
Online: Your card issuer’s website may let you send them complaints about merchant violations and start a dispute if your were charged a fee to use your card.

“Visa merchants are not permitted to establish minimum transaction amounts, even on sale items. They also are not permitted to charge you a fee when you want to use your Visa card.”

“Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID. Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures.”

See this VISA faq on how minimum charges are not allowed.
Rules for Visa Merchants.

MasterCard
Make a report online.
Phone Number: 1-800-MASTERCARD (International: 1-636-722-7111) Or can also call the number on the back of your card.

“A merchant must not require, or post signs indicating that it requires, a minimum or maximum transaction ammount to accept a valid MasterCard card.”

“A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information.”

MasterCard Merchant Rules

American Express
Make a report online
Phone Number: 1-800-528-4800 (International: 1-336-393-1111)
Mailing Address:
American Express
P.O. Box 297812
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33329-7812

“American Express’s regulations do not explicitly prohibit minimum charges, but its policy is to discourage any merchant practices that create a “barrier to acceptance.” Amex does prohibit “discrimination” against the Amex card, however, so if a merchant has no minimum or maximum charge or require ID for Visa and MasterCard, the merchant may not discriminate against Amex by imposing a minimum or maximum charge or requiring ID.” [gofso]

RELATED:
MEGA UPDATE: Requiring Minimum Credit Card Purchases is a Violation
Stores can’t set credit card minimum [MSNBC]
California Civil Code Prohibiting Surcharges for Credit Card Use
What Merchants Can And Can’t Do In Regards To Credit Cards
Google Answers on State Laws Regarding Surcharges

Comments

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  1. theninjasquad says:

    Does this apply in Canada as well? What about for debit transactions?

  2. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Does this work with the government too? My city’s utilities bill tacks on an extra $5 if making a payment with a credit card. I like my rewards and this is the only bill that doesn’t play the game well.

  3. sandwich_pants says:

    Wait, making people verify their ID to match the credit card is AGAINST the rules? How fraudulicious!

    • Anonymous says:

      @sandwich_pants: I am concerned too….this does not make any sense to me.

      I don’t see why it would be a violation of any type, to ask for ID? This would simply prove that you are using “your card” (or, that you’ve stolen the card, and the ID, of the person’s card you are using…..)

    • Radys Nader says:

      @sandwich_pants: merchants are supposed to look at you signature. Since I moved to Miami from NY I have had to keep my drivers license handy as there must be issues down here. It is annoying to be questioned especially when I’ve worked so hard on my signature. If you are concerned for you credit card then just write Show ID on the back.

  4. MeOhMy says:

    So here is my question about ratting out your local Chinese Takeout Joint becuase they are posting a $10 credit card minimum:

    What’s the point?

    I assume terminating the merchant agreement is a last resort, but this would result in me simply not being able to use my credit card there at all. Not great for me.

    Since they have a minimum, I can only assume that they have concluded that transaction fees from small purchases will eat into their profits, so if they are backed into the corner, they may have to raise prices across the board (or worse). Not great for me either.

    Bottom line – ratting out the Chinese Takeout joint provides me no benefits. If the credit card issuers were truly concerned about this, they would be proactive about it. I’m certainly not going to do their dirty work for them. Maybe if they gave me $50 for each tim I snitch, I’d go ratting on all the pizza joints in a 10 mile radius, but otherwise this is not my problem or my job.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Troy F.: I always thought the “minimum purchase” was for delivery only….I mean, I can understand them not wanting to drive 4 miles to deliver 2 egg rolls to some teeenagers who just got home from school (and likely won’t tip properly either).

    • loudambiance says:

      @Troy F.: I can see your view point here, and agree, for restaurants the minimum has never bothered me, I am not going not going into a mexican restaurant or chinese one and going to spend less than $5 or $10. What does get me however is how every convenience store in my area now has a $5 or $10 minimum, and most will take on $1 or $2 if you are below the minimum. Makes buying a drink or bag of chips way over priced,

  5. bravo369 says:

    I have only ever been denied a credit card purchase at a liquor store. I know for a fact that i’ve even seen signs hanging that said minimum $10 purchase for credit cards. I guess next time I get refused, I need to take a picture of the sign and say i’m emailing it to visa. whats the penalty they face?

  6. kikidrunkst says:

    How about taxi cabs? I have been kicked out of cabs when I asked if I could use a credit card, because I wasn’t going ‘far enough’.

  7. m0unds says:

    Wow. Kinda depressing that it’s not a hard-set rule to require additional ID when you present a credit card for payment for something.

  8. DallasDMD says:

    @bravo369: What do you hope to accomplish exactly? If they stop accepting credit cards, I’m sure everyone will be happy, right?

  9. nemesiscw says:

    Wait wait wait…
    I live in Seattle, WA and almost every, if not all, Taco Bells here charge a fee for using a debit/credit card. You mean I can now go in there, and call BS on that?

  10. I always feel horribly conflicted when I go to a small business that has a minimum charge. I know I should just carry cash, but I hate cash, and I’m not good at remembering to get it. I also know they’re in violation, but I’d feel like a heel turning them in..

  11. Sudonum says:

    Can’t we save some time and just cut and paste the comments from yesterdays post over here now?

  12. chartrule says:

    I’ve never been charged a fee to use a credit card – but I have been to stores that add 25cents to the bill if you want to use your debit card

    there are a few stores here that only accept cash though

  13. Mike_ says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: Some states require credit card companies to allow convenience fees for payments to certain government institutions. Here is one explanation from Alachua County, Florida.

  14. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @theninjasquad: I’d think that Visa’s rules apply globally, as Visa is accepted globally.

  15. theninjasquad says:

    Why do the credit card companies have the charge per transaction anyways? Don’t the make enough cash off our interest charges on purchases?

  16. emona says:

    @Troy F.: Exactly. The cafe at my office has a $4 limit… yes, it’s annoying but the owners are very nice people and there’s no way I’m about to throw a hissy fit about it.

  17. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Troy F.: “So here is my question about ratting out your local Chinese Takeout Joint becuase they are posting a $10 credit card minimum:

    What’s the point?”

    The point is, Visa calls up the joint and says “stop doing that, or we’ll revike your ability to take Visa.”

    Then the Chinese joint says “Crap, we better stop doing that, or we won’t be able to take Visa anymore.”

    Problem solved.

  18. MeOhMy says:

    @aaron8301:

    Go back and read the rest of my post and try again. I really would be interested in hearing a compelling reason to do Visa’s dirty work at my own cost/expense.

    Thanks.

  19. LoLoAGoGo says:

    Seriously?! I can finally tell bars with a $20 minimum credit card purchase to shove off?! This is better than knowing I can end my Sprint contract next month without an ETF!

  20. @sandwich_pants & m0unds: They’re probably thinking that handing over your address and driver’s license number, in addition to your name and credit card number, to a minimum wage slave is likely to result in fraud.

    I’ve never had anyone write anything down when checking my id for a card purchase though so unless I’ve shown it to someone with a photographic memory I’m probably good.

  21. Teqonix says:

    Whoa, I’m confused – why is it considered a bad thing to make you show Id when placing something on a credit card? I like it when businesses do that – makes me feel a little more secure in the fact they’re not helping some thief put something on my card.

  22. smallestmills says:

    @theninjasquad:
    I.D.s are not required for debit cards when used as a PIN transaction because the PIN is the identifier. Dunno about the Canada thing, though.

  23. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Credit card companies charge the merchant a flat per-transaction cost plus a % of the sale. The flat transaction cost is usually around 25 cents to 50 cents depending upon the type of transaction and the type of card you use. Yes, if you use a “reward” card that gives you points the retailers are the ones that pay extra so you can get your precious frequent flier miles. If a little corner store charges a $10 minimum transaction on credit cards it’s because they’re in the hole 70-80 cents to the card company before you ever buy anything. I can’t blame them for doing so; especially a little corner store that rarely rings up more than 10 dollars anyway. Visa won’t cut them off either. They might send them a warning letter but they’re not going to cut them off. If Visa pulled their account they’re going to lose tens of thousands of dollars in merchant fees over a year. That’s hardly worth losing that money because you couldn’t buy a can of Red Bull with your debit card.

  24. @Rectilinear Propagation: That said, I’d rather there was a rule against people writing sensitive information down on checks.

  25. theninjasquad says:

    @smallestmills: I meant more when stores charge you for using debit if its under a certain amount. Like a 25 cent surcharge or something.

  26. smallestmills says:

    @Teqonix:
    Then write “See ID” on your card. You can even sign it and write “See ID” in the space leftover. I am a lowly retail slave and diligently check all signatures and cards, but in compliance with Visa/Mastercard policy, I do not check ID if it’s not written on the card. My personal cards have “See ID” written in permanent marker with the rest of the signature panel blacked out.

  27. qwickone says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: You don’t have to turn them in, you just have to ask them if they know that’s illegal. I’ve done that before and they take my card, no questions asked, after I point that out. Then you dont have to get them in trouble or anything.

  28. I_can_still_pitch says:

    @smallestmills: Unless your name is “See ID” writing that on your card technically makes it invalid. Read the small print on the card, it says the card must be signed to be valid.

  29. dreamcatcher2 says:

    The fact of the matter is that processing credit card transactions costs the merchant money – I think they are absolutely within their (intrinsic) rights to protect their ability to not lose money! I think that the credit card contracts which require minimum purchases/no extra charges are simply encouraging consumers to behave in a manner that makes the credit card company lots of money, while slashing merchant margins.

    I think it’s best for society if the cost of the credit card transaction is explicitly added to the cost of the purchase. We need to stop credit card companies from skimming money off each transaction to make their profits and hand money back to consumers in loyalty programs, encouraging wanton spending.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most retailers have minimums set for credit, because they are charged per perchase.

      I heard PayPal works this way too….I.E. If you done 50cents to someone, or something ridiculously low(I can’t remember the cut off), they actually lose money, because “PayPal” charges a fee to “process” the payment….

  30. Pylon83 says:

    Perhaps we need to straighten out a few terms here. There is noting “illegal” against them requiring a minimum purchase or requiring an ID to be shown (unless of course your state/municipality has enacted such a law). A violation of the Visa/MC merchant agreement does not constitute a violation of law. Therefore, it is not “illegal”. It is a violation of their merchant agreement. So when you call them out, don’t tell them it’s illegal, simply inform them they are in violation of their merchant contract with the respective credit card company, and you plan to report them.

  31. johnva says:

    Why do people care about the ID thing so much? It’s not your liability anyway if someone uses your credit card fraudulently, as long as you report it. It’s the bank’s problem. So why should you care that much? Most of the time when there’s fraud it’s done without them physically possessing your card anyway (they will just use your number online, or by cloning it, in which case writing “check ID” isn’t going to help you).

    So by showing ID you are potentially opening yourself to more fraud for basically no reason.

  32. veronykah says:

    Ok so is it in violation of the agreement with MasterCard that Arco gas stations only allow you to use a debit card and they charge you 45 cents per each transaction?
    Is this allowed in California or something? Anyone?

  33. PaymentJoe says:

    I am going to do my best to answer some of the questions on here. I work closely with merchants, processors and payment card companies.

    @SmallestMills: You cannot write See ID on the back of your card. You must sign your signature or you technically have violated your agreement with your card provider.

    @SaveMeJeebus: The extra $5 is to offset the transaction processing costs. It is referred to as a convenience fee. It is legit as long as the same fee is applied evenly across all methods of payment. According to Visa and MC, merchants cannot charge a $5 fee for credit cards and a different fee for debit or electronic check payments.

    @Aaron8301: VISA USA is responsible for purchases in America. Their agreements do not apply to other countries.

    General comment: Transaction fees through Visa and MC are significantly more expensive that debit card or check payments. The credit card companies bake rules into their agreements to prevent merchants from steering customers away from credit payments as a means to keep their costs down. However, something will eventually have to give as credit processing fees keep going up (mostly to pay for the rewards that we all enjoy.) That is why the interchange process is being examine by congress.

  34. PaymentJoe says:

    Veronykah,

    Certain states (I am looking at you CA) have passed legislation that trumps the credit card agreements. In these states you will ofter see that you can buy gas with cash for a cheaper price than if you pay with credit. Visa and MC hate this!

  35. Pylon83 says:

    @PaymentJoe:
    This doesn’t “trump” the CC agreements. The Visa/MC agreements specifically say that they CAN offer a discount if you pay with cash.

  36. bohemian says:

    About twice a month I get the “we need to see your ID to compare signatures” line when buying something. Seeing the signature in the back of the card seems logical.

    So does this apply if your using a checkcard but running it as credit?

    Ironically I only get this routine if I happen to be shopping in sweats on the way home from the gym.

  37. Jon Parker says:

    @Troy F.: *thunderous applause, panning left and right* Most places that require a minimum are mom and pop places. No way am I going to report them, especially since the result will be higher prices even when I’m paying cash.

  38. remusrm says:

    Not to sound as an ass, but I have a friend that has a hamburger join in montebelo, ca and he needs to pay about .50cent to 4 bucks depending on the amount proccessed. How is it fair for them. The VISA/MC make alot of money from this and screw the little guy alot. Alot of them have ATM only. And honestly if you do not have 5 bucks for food, you should not eat out and stop spending on credit cards…

  39. johnva says:

    @PaymentJoe: Actually I think you can write “See ID” on your card as long as you still actually sign it. But I don’t see why you would.

  40. johnva says:

    @remusrm: I do sympathize with small merchants, which is why I would never report one for trying to have a minimum purchase for cards (especially at a place that mostly does small transactions). But at places like that credit cards are mostly used for convenience, not to borrow money people don’t have. I use them with no guilt at all at any chain restaurant, because I simply don’t feel like carrying cash around and manually managing my spending records.

  41. nemesiscw says:

    @remusrm:
    Yeah, I agree that people shouldn’t report the smaller stores. But for stores like Taco Bell and McDonald’s that charge .50 for each transaction, could they be reported?

  42. liquisoft says:

    I’ve only been told about a minimum purchase amount at two places: a little Subway shop and a local Vet’s office. Both places are tiny and have low traffic. As such, I don’t mind it at all.

  43. majortom1981 says:

    How is making yo ushow id with your credit card against the rules?

    ISnt that a good thing so that the store knows that its your credit card?

  44. johnva says:

    @majortom1981: It’s good for the store since it might reduce their risk. It’s not so good for you, since you’re showing them your I.D. with your name, address, DL number, etc for a reason that doesn’t benefit you in any way. It’s not your problem as a customer whether the merchant gets ripped off. I think VISA made this rule most likely because they thought having to show an ID might discourage credit card use by consumers.

  45. nickripley says:

    @theninjasquad: Visa and Mastercard are not making money on the interest, directly.

  46. That70sHeidi says:

    You know, at Pat Catan’s (craft store) I had to show ID, and all I have is my passport. The stupid 80 year old had NEVER SEEN A PASSPORT and had to wander around the store with it asking if she could accept it as ID. It has my picture AND my signature on it! NO ONE WOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY to tell her yes!!!! I was ASTOUNDED as were the people behind me in line. Finally a manager, equally astounded, came over to clear it up.

    I can’t wait to go back and buy something there and haughtily tell the clerk that it’s against their merchant agreements to request to see my ID and I refuse to show it, fetch a manager. YAY!!!!!

  47. nickripley says:

    @Troy F.: I think it’s a matter of principle. Some of us don’t like to be discriminated against based on how we pay for something.

    @remusrm: If you can’t afford to pay the processing fee, don’t accept credit cards or raise your prices!

  48. Nick says:

    I use credit cards because they are faster and more convenient than cash or checks. At Target, for example, I don’t even need to show my card to the cashier–I just swipe it, sign, and I’m done before the cashier even finishes scanning my items. Even better, at some places, you don’t even have to sign for purchases under $20. I can’t stand when stores/cashiers demand ID with credit card transactions, especially because I have my photo and signature imprinted on my credit card. I don’t worry about fraud because 1) the majority of credit card fraud is either electronic (online data) and tip-inflation at restaurants, neither of which in any way could be stopped by checking ID (stolen physical cards are comparably rare; and 2) I am not responsible for fraudulent charges. On the two occasions I’ve experienced fraud, the charges were instantly reversed.

    Stores, as a policy, should not require ID. If individuals CHOOSE to restrict their card to ID-verification, then they can put a sticker or something on the back instructing the cashier to check.

  49. bricklayer says:

    @remusrm: At my favorite comic book shop in LA, I only wanted to purchase a $3 comic and had no cash. Rather than (illegally) turning me away, the owner offered the book for free! Instead, I just purchased an additional $20 paperback.

  50. jasonorl says:

    @theninjasquad: Visa,Mastercard,etc don’t receive any interest as they just provide the network. The issuing banks are actually making the loans and they receive the interest. Visa makes its money of each transaction.

  51. PaymentJoe says:

    @Pylon83: You are correct. They cannot charge more for credit card purchases, but can charge less for cash. It starts to get down to semantics and how it is presented to the customer.

  52. legotech says:

    The places like gas stations and taco bell are getting around the extra fee by processing the hits as debit card cash advances I think. At last at Taco Bell they’ll give you cash back if you ask…dunno how the gas stations get around it.

  53. StevieD says:

    From the merchant perspective…

    Credit card companies change terms and surcharges at will. The merchant is required to accept the changes with little or no recourse.

    My current credit card transaction fee is $3.17. You buy something, I pay $3.17 to your credit card company to accept your card. You buy something for $2, I am out $1.17 plus the cost of the goods. To be blunt, I would be better off just giving you the goods.

    Visa et al set the fees based upon the average size of the transactions, return rates and other factors. Basically I am screwed because I have a very high average transaction (amount) rate.

    Small stores can pay $1 or so in transaction fees. Buy something for $5, say a gallon of gas and a candy bar, and the merchant just paid $1 and change to your credit card provider. I highly doubt the profit margin on that transaction is sufficient to cover cost of the goods.

    Sure the merchant could just raise prices. That means I am going to pay more to fill my car and buy some snacks… AND I PAY IN CASH.

    Or the merchant can charge the jerk of the customer with the small credit card transactions.

    I vote for screw the customers with the small credit card transactions.

  54. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @veronykah: Damn I was just about to mention ARCO..

    @PaymentJoe: The only problem with that is when a gas station charges one flat fee for gas then tacks on an additional charge for debit.

  55. StevieD says:

    @bricklayer:

    Yep, the merchant was better off just giving you the magazine than charging your card $3.

    Oh, and Visa is going to raise the fees again. Just nickle and diming the small merchants to death.

  56. JustAGuy2 says:

    @StevieD:

    Boo-hoo. Don’t want to accept credit cards? Don’t. You’ll probably lose my business, but them’s the breaks. As to paying in cash, there’s no reason I should feel any sympathy because you choose not to pay with a credit card. I’ll keep paying with a credit card and getting my 1.5% back every month, thanks very much.

  57. jydesign says:

    @PYLON83 The whole Gas station issue of being ALLOWED to offer a ‘cash discount’ seems to introduce a slippery slope element. I mean why couldn’t a small business, that wishes for example to have a minimum $5+ transaction limit on card sales, simply price everything at their establishment as having a cash discount? Then have the ‘normal’ price be $5 or more? Same logic right – oh, that candy bar is $1.50 with the cash discount, but the regular price is $5 if you pay by card. Sounds really freakin’ stupid when you talk about candy, why doesn’t it sound just as stupid for a gallon of gas? Who’s trumping who?

  58. StevieD says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    Nah, I ain’t going to loose your business as I am not in the retail trade.

    I sell industrial equipment and supplies with a focus on warehouse equipment. You know, forklifts, dock accessories, warehous racks etc.

    I am just tired of customers wanting a $2 bolt and whip out the ‘ole credit card like it is paper money.

  59. gamabunta says:

    @johnva: Because the merchant gets cheated out of that money.

    I work at Longs and at our store we lost $800.00 due to disputed charges last month alone as a result of people saying they didn’t make that transaction. In turn, we get bitched at by management for accepting said cards as if it’s somehow our fault people stole the cards.

    And no I don’t want to find another job because the insurance at Long’s kicks ass.

  60. Pylon83 says:

    @jydesign:
    Can you imagine how difficult such a system would be to implement? Not to mention the lost business from those of us who don’t carry cash.

    I live in downtown Chicago, and there are a number of small restaurants (hot dog stands, etc) that have phenomenal food, but I refuse to patronize them because they don’t take plastic. I’m sorry, I consider credit cards to be a much safer way to pay for things. First off, if my wallet gets pick-pocketed, I lose nothing other than some time to cancel and re-order the cards. If I carried cash to pay for everything, I’d be out however much cash I had on me. I don’t like carrying around more than $20ish in cash. The cost of processing credit card transactions is a cost of doing business, and should be figured into the prices accordingly. I’m sorry if it hurts the little guy, I guess if it does maybe it’s time to get out of the business.

  61. rdm24 says:

    @Troy F.:
    I agree. Many local merchants have established minimum purchases because credit card transactions cost them money. It’s far more acceptable than tacking on a fee–which seems to be standard practice at many gas stations. I didn’t realize that was illegal!

    Also, asking for ID is to prevent identity theft, so I don’t really object to that either.

  62. JustAGuy2 says:

    @StevieD:

    In other words, you accept credit cards because your customers (not me in particular, but your customers in general) want you to.

  63. morganlh85 says:

    I have another question…I am currently planning a wedding and a lot of vendors will charge you a fee to pay deposits and balances with a credit card. Now I heard from someone else that vendors aren’t ALLOWED to pass the credit card fees onto the consumer. I’d love to see this in writing so I can show it to vendors who try to do that to me.

  64. swalve says:

    @remusrm: Nobody is forcing them to take credit cards.

  65. Pylon83 says:

    @morganlh85:
    Go to Visa or MC’s website and get a copy of the merchant agreement. It’s in there. You just have to look through the manual.

  66. randombob says:

    @nemesiscw:

    Not quite. This is not in reference to Debit card transactions, and btw those charges are applied by your bank not taco bell. Take it up with your bank.

  67. jwissick says:

    @Pylon83: Actually it is illegal in some states. California is one of them. You can not ask for ID when accepting a credit card in Ca.

  68. gingerCE says:

    I am a consumer, but I think small businesses are in the right to ask for ID for purchases. I wish all businesses did this. As a victim of fraud and also because I know several other victims of credit card fraud, asking for an ID might’ve made a difference. I have seen first hand how fraud was prevented because the clerk asked the suspicious customer for ID. Why this is illegal makes absolutely no sense.

    Also, I have no problem if small business wants to put minimums on credit card purchases. Pay with cash or check. Are we such a society that plastic is all we know?

    Honestly, to me this are kinda bogus consumer complaints. This site does a great job an valid consumer complaints and problems, but actually encouraging businesses to not ask for ID strikes me as encouraging fraud to occur.

  69. jwissick says:

    @rdm24: Asking for ID promotes ID theft. With an ID number I can take over your life. I can only take over your credit card with your card number.

  70. MFfan310 says:

    Merchants that only accept debit cards with a PIN can set surcharges for debit transactions because the transactions are processed on PIN networks like STAR/NYCE/PULSE/Interlink and are not processed on the Visa/MasterCard networks. Hence why ARCO has the 45 cent debit surcharge… they only accept PIN transactions. Carmike Cinemas out here used to only accept PIN transactions, offering cash back with a purchase (and had a 99 cent surcharge for the convenience), but ditched it and switched to accepting plain ol’ Visa/MC credit/debit cards with a signature.

    @RDM24: Asking for ID doesn’t make sense when there’s tons of those prepaid Visa/MC/AmEx “gift cards” that typically have something like “a gift for you” and not the cardholder’s name embossed on the front of the card. What if someone shows their ID and a non-personalized Visa gift card and the merchant declines it due to the lack of the cardholder’s name embossed on the front?

    BTW, I reported a Subway(!) franchise to Visa USA for breaking the “no ID” rule.

  71. Pylon83 says:

    While I have never been the victim of a stolen CC, a very close friend and my mother both have been. It seemed to be an easy and streamlined procedure to cancel the cards, and the money was nearly instantaneously refunded to the accounts. So the argument that it helps prevent fraud is weak.

  72. dlayphoto says:

    What about utilities?

    Both FirstEnergy (electric) and Dominion (gas) charge me a $3.95 ‘convenience’ fee for using my VISA to pay my bills.

  73. gingerCE says:

    My sis’s purse was stolen. It was by a teenage boy in the neighborhood who’d stolen another neighbor’s purse. He charged up both their credit cards all over town in just a few hours.

    Even if the merchants had asked for ID (which they didn’t) if he had to show it, maybe they would’ve noticed hey, the ID picture doesn’t match, and hey, that picture is of a girl. And oh, the name on the card is a girl’s name. This punk not only charged items, but was able to get cash back at several places. Huh?

  74. gingerCE says:

    I have been the victim of credit card identity theft. Even when you don’t have to pay for the fraudulent items, you still feel like a victim.

    It is a horrible feeling and you feel anger because in most cases, the thief isn’t caught, and they got away with thousands of dollars of merchandise.

  75. Nick says:

    @dlayphoto: I’ve seen companies get around this by having third-parties handle payments. The surcharge you pay is technically for the use of the third-party’s system. My university stopped accepting tuition payments via credit cards, and instead points students to a private company that will “let you” pay tuition for a $50 fee. The $50 is a “convenience fee,” not a charge for the credit card transaction.

  76. Nick says:

    @gingerCE: It sucks when someone uses your credit card number, but I’d bet your situation involved electronic fraud (either from a shady online store, or a hacker getting into a retailer’s database). Situations like your sister’s are very rare by comparison.

  77. veronykah says:

    @That70sHeidi: That is SO funny. I was at Target with an x-boyfriend who only had a passport as id. When he was asked for id, he showed the passport. The clerk didn’t want to take it. He said, “It gets me into OTHER COUNTRIES and its not good enough for Target?”
    If memory serves, she eventually took it.

  78. iamme99 says:

    BULLSHIT! To shorten a very long story, I spent over a year going back and forth with a person named Susanne Agniadis in Visa’s executive complaint office (410.998.8379, 800.921.5539) about a company named MarketGas in Millbrae, CA violating both Visa and CA state rules against surcharging on credit cards.

    The company began showing two prices, a credit card price and a cash price back around July or so 2006.

    I sent regular photo’s documenting this and she would keep saying that this was being looked at and would be taken care of. Eventually, Visa refused to enforce their own rules, saying that the company WAS ruled to be in compliance. This after they removed their signage saying “credit card price” replacing the signs with the wording “non-cash price”.

    I suspect Visa was more worried about putting together their IPO than enforcing their rules.

    One of the big problems is that Visa itself can’t enforce its own rules. All it can do is try to force the bank that works with the company surcharging to do something.

    Mastercard didn’t care at all.

    I also tried to get the State of CA to enforce their civil rule regarding surcharges. The State Attorneys General office said they don’t have the resources to do so and would have to get many thousands of complaints. They suggested the Consumer Complaint office. They couldn’t do anything. They suggested the credit card company or the County DA’s office. The County DA never answers the phone and never returned any calls.

    If I were a business of any type, I’d start adding surcharges for credit cards. At least in California, nothing is going to happen to you.

    Perhaps if big chain stores started charging surcharges, Visa would get off its ass.

    Here is a small part of the emails exchanged (last few):

    —–Original Message—–
    From: xxxxx
    Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 4:57 GMT
    To: Agniadis, Susanne
    Subject: Re: CU200706-4382 Re: Market Gas photo – 3/25/2007

    Susan,

    After all this time, I think you owe me a reasonable explanation. HOW is
    Market Gas in compliance? Did Visa change your rules recently?
    See the latest photo which is attached.

    All they did was change the signage from “Credit Card price” to say “Non
    Cash Price”. A surcharge is still a surcharge, just as a rose is rose
    by any other name.

    Why has Visa chosen not to enforce your own rules?

    Joe

    On 7/13/07, Agniadis, Susanne wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > I hope all is well. I wanted to let you know that the merchant is
    > viewed as being in compliance.
    >
    > Thank you for reporting these issues to us. We really appreciate it.
    >
    > Have a pleasant weekend.
    >
    > Susanne
    >
    > —–Original Message—–
    > From: xxxxx
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 5:07 GMT
    > To: Agniadis, Susanne
    > Subject: CU200706-4382 (FORWARDED TO VEI) Re: Market Gas photo -
    > 3/25/2007
    >
    > Latest photo attached – Taken Sunday, 6/23. Nearing the one year
    > anniversary on this issue! It’s not good that Visa corporate has
    > proven itself impotent and unable to fix this problem.

  79. iamme99 says:

    And here is a link to the last photo from my long post on gas surcharges. Is this a surcharge or not? You be the judge.

    [www.fototime.com]

  80. StevieD says:

    @iamme99:

    It is not a credit card surcharge.

    It IS a noncash price.

    Noncash price could include a check from a retail consumer, purchase order from the local university or commercial business, as well as a credit card transaction. In summary it is for any form of payment other than immediate payment by legal tender.

  81. humphrmi says:

    @iamme99: Wow, you’ve let this consume a lot of your life it seems.

    Back in the day, all gas stations charged a surcharge for credit; margins on gas are razor-thin and gas station owners (this was the days before mini-marts) didn’t feel they were getting a fair deal. Then the CC companies cracked the whip, Mini-marts came along and saved the gas station, and everyone was happy. Except a few gas station owners who either didn’t want to run a mini-mart, or just liked the extra money and didn’t want to give it up.

    But there’s this thing called “elasticity of demand” and if a gas station charges substantially more than the competition and the market can’t support that price, the higher priced gas station actually makes less income. Everyone else (by and large) now does not charge a CC surcharge, so the odd man out either already charges less than them to begin with, or sends over their uncle Guido every week and forces you to buy gas from them.

    The moral of the story is, have you thought about going to a different gas station? I mean sure, they shouldn’t try to charge you for a CC and all, that just sucks, but there’s, like, a million gas stations in California.

  82. Tonguetied says:

    The concern I have for requiring ID when using a credit card is not so much a matter of privacy or anything like that. I regard my credit card as an emergency purchasing card in that I keep it separate from my wallet. If I lose my wallet I have a backup card that I can use to make necessary purchases. If the store demands an ID when I use the card then I’m screwed.

  83. Jay Levitt says:

    @That70sHeidi: Heidi, now that you have achieved level 1 in consumer pushback techniques, may I suggest you consider a light sight project, a mere bagattelle, before attempting the serious confrontation that arises in higher lvels?

    Simply obtain a large number of $2 bills directly from the Treasury Department. here’s a good start: Two Dollar BBill

    The next key is tie delivery. when you offer the $2 bill for payment, you have to act as if you know you might have obtained this bill from less-than-fortright sources, but still, you’re sure it’s not fake or anyhting, I mean, it looks reall right?

    So you play both sides of the emipricist v. logician degabate, and usually win by paying with “cash”.

    Google for “Steve Wozniak casino 2-dollar bill” for some good stories.

  84. gman863 says:

    Having worked in big-ticket retail for several years, I am firmly on the side of merchants asking for I.D.

    As stated in previous comments, consumers are not liable for fradulent purchases. Given this, if someone swipes your credit card and uses it to buy a $2000 computer, who actually ends up paying for it?

    The first thing Visa, MC, AMEX or Discover will try is a “charge back” – literally taking the amount back out of the merchant’s bank account with little or no warning. The Catch-22 is that the credit card issuer will sometimes state the merchant failed to check the signature or name on the card (and I’m supposed to check it against…hmmm…uhhh…not I.D., I guess).

    If the merchant is successful in fighting the charge back, the card issuer has to eat the loss. In order to cover the loss, the card issuer replaces the lost revenue by jacking interest rates, late fees and adding other “gotchas” to their fine print.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch.

  85. Has anyone come to a conclusion as to whether or not it is a violation for gas stations to charge extra for credit/debit purchases versus cash purchases? I was just thinking about this today after I got charged $0.10 extra per gallon (I was on E, so I only got 3 gallons at this station so I could get to work and back). The signs are absolutely misleading. When driving down the road, you see 3 numbers, the second being the credit price ($0.10 more), the third being diesel. Nearly every other gas station that does not partake in this deceptive practice (which is most) has 3 prices (sometimes 4) on their sign, the top two being $0.10 apart, the top being unleaded and the second being premium. You see the ten cent difference from the road at the deceptive station and you think it is two different types of gas. Screw that.

  86. jeblis says:

    Good info. thx

  87. Haplo9000 says:

    I work in a business that has dealings with businesses, credit card processors, etc, and here is the dirty secret about VISA: They do not care if your business succeeds or fails. If, as a business, you do not adhere to their rules, be it regarding the no minimum rule or, as another example, not having what VISA considers adequate security measures on credit transactions, VISA will fine the bejesus out of you. At that point, here are your options:

    1. Pay the fine and adhere to the rules. VISA gets a pile of extra cash.

    2. Refuse to pay the fine. You no longer get to take VISA cards, and your business goes into the toilet.

    3. Just close your business. This would seem to be a loss for VISA, but think again. I have heard credit reps say that if the spot a business in is a good location, well, someone else is just going to move in there and they WILL take credit cards and will follow the rules, so no worries for VISA.

    Bottom line is, VISA makes money when you follow the rules, they make money when you do NOT follow the rules, and they make money when VISA fines you into oblivion.

  88. HooFoot says:

    Good luck getting Visa to do anything about it. I tried reporting a local 7-11 to Visa for imposing a ridiculous two dollar “convenience fee” on all debit and credit card purchases. Instead, Visa sent me a rude letter telling me to report the problem to the bank that issued my debit card. I then called my bank, and they told me to talk to Visa. *facepalm*

    The 7-11 is still charging that damn fee, too.

  89. novelgirl says:

    Having worked in retail on and off for years, I can sympathize especially with small merchants. Their profit margins are a lot smaller and credit card fees can really eat into profits.
    And when credit card companies like AmEx encouraging consumers to shop online and get better deals than at the brick and mortar, I can see why small stores may not be enamored with credit card companies.
    And people who write See My ID on their cards DRIVE me crazy. Half the time, stores have customers swipe the card themselves.

  90. gingerCE says:

    @schwnj: Hi. You’re right, in both my cases (identity stolen twice) and in the case of my best friend it was done online or via mail theft (don’t know cause as far as I know was never caught).

    However, I know several people, including my sis, where the crime was done in person via a stolen card. I had a friend in college who had her credit card stolen and within an hour, that person had charged hundreds at GAP as well as another store (can’t recall). I’m assuming neither store asked for ID. I saw, first hand, a customer trying to buy booze, cigarettes, and gift cards in the amount of hundreds be (thank god!) turned away because he did not have ID.

    There was the case of actress Teri Hatcher where a thief charged close to 10K on her lost debit card using it in stores and restaurants and no one asked for ID even with the name Teri Hatcher on the card. She said most of the purchases was for less than $30 (it took her about a month to realize her card was gone).

    There was a case in my town where an elderly woman had her caretaker steal her cards and use them up. Hey, maybe if the clerks had asked for ID, it wouldn’t have happened.

    My point is I think there are a lot of good reasons why it might make sense for merchants to ask to see ID. I don’t see one negative to it frankly except that some people find it annoying to have dig out their license.

    As for the guy who complains about only carrying a credit card–get one with your picture on it. I have a Citi card and an Amex with my picture on them.

  91. Syrenia says:

    @StevieD: I assume that merchants calculate the credit card transaction fees into their prices. So why should I overpay?

  92. Jesterphun says:

    If I’ve signed the back of my credit card, then I sign the receipt in front of the cashier, then the cashier compares the two signatures, what additional “security” does looking at my ID provide?

    Does comparing 3 signatures to each other provide more “security” than just 2?

  93. StevieD says:

    @syrenia:

    $5 bolt?

    Nah. That is assumed to be cash and carry. Oh purchased with something else.

    The same thing for the mom and pop restaurant selling softdrinks or donuts or whatever for under $2. Yea, softdrinks are a big profit center. But if Visa is going to take all of the profits, then selling JUST a soft drink to a customer is no longer profitable.

    The restaurant could charge $5 for the softdrink. Buy why should I overpay (paying cash) so that you or somebody else can pay for the drink by credit card.

  94. egyptiangenie says:

    @kikidrunkst:
    I had a cabbie explain this to me once, and it’s the same as with corner stores — they don’t like losing money on the processing fees. This particular guy was really, really helpful in taking me all the way across Brooklyn to go pick up something at UPS, waiting for me, then bringing me back home. I actually asked him about his situation so he wasn’t complaining to me or anything. He also let me stop at my bank’s ATM to get cash.

    I wouldn’t give them a hard time for not wanting you to pay for a $12 cab ride with your card, but if you’re on a long ride to the airport or something I think it’s fine. And I might tip better if he doesn’t gripe.

  95. trollkiller says:

    Out of the thousands of people I have IDed for a credit card sale only a handful have ever questioned why I asked for ID. After telling them I check it because I know they would not want their credit card used by someone else, only a few have ever got “upset” at the request.

    Those few that got upset fall into one of two categories, 1) thief or 2) asshole.

    I don’t want to do business with either.

    As for the minimum, I do think it is wrong for a business to state you must buy X amount to use a card. It is however ok to refuse a sell because the credit card fee would negate the profit on an item.

    Amazingly enough when you explain to someone that the credit card fees would make it cheaper to give them the item than to sell it, they understand. If they don’t get it and get pissy, they fall into category 2. Still don’t want to do business with them.

    If you fall into category 1 or 2 please visit my competitor.

  96. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Excellent information. I worked for a brief stint selling credit card readers and in the contract it specifically states the merchant will NOT charge extra for using Debit/Credit cards. The merchant PAYS for the right and priviledge of being able to accept credit cards. If they want to raise their prices across the board to offset the cost then fine. But to put up a sign telling people that an extra FEE will be billed is not only stupid but just plain RUDE.

  97. trollkiller says:

    @syrenia: Do you really want merchants to price each item with the credit card fees built in? As a merchant you would have to assume every item would be bought separately. I would have to tack on at least .35 onto every item plus a percentage of the price.

  98. magilacudy says:

    Nice… I was just looking over my receipts the other day and saw an “Upcharge” of 4 bucks from this NYC club. I remember them telling me they had a $24 minimum… then they go ahead and add $4 to bring the total to $25 when they close out my tab. WTF

  99. astrochimp says:

    @StevieD: I thought credit card fees were just a percentage of the sale. If so, it doesn’t make a difference whether your purchase was $0.01 or $1000.00.

    Are they not, or have I been misled this entire time?

  100. g4lt says:

    you know, I have a different take on the ID thing: I have my photo on my card, AND NOBODY CHECKS IT!!!

  101. trollkiller says:

    @astrochimp: Sadly you have been misled. They are a per transaction plus percentage.

  102. cothebadger says:

    Questions (ala D. Schrute):

    1. A music store in my area has two prices marked on every item: one for paying cash and one for paying via credit card. Is this legal? The cash price is cheaper by a buck or more than I would expect to pay at a big box place, so I’m not complaining, but it still seems illegal.

    2. Does anyone here worry about governmental violations of privacy? In many ways, it seems like the Patriot Act allows for digging into any records if you’re a “terror suspect”. I don’t doubt it’s been abused before, though I’m too busy to look up any instances. On top of that, so many telecoms are surfacing that have had the government go through phone call records. My friend got a satellite dish and payed cash because he planned on pirating cable. Makes sense to me.

  103. clevershark says:

    Asking for ID to make sure you’re not using a stolen CC actually seems like a pretty good idea to me.

  104. iamme99 says:

    @HUMPHRMI-I buy gas from Costco, so what this station does doesn’t generally affect me. They are cheaper, even with their surcharge, than the Chevron station across the street which only shows one price.

    But yes, I let this become a crusade and a matter of principle. When I see references like this lead story, I want to tell others not to waste their time complaining about surcharges. No one really cares to enforce most rules, regulations and laws these days. These only apply to individual people, not to businesses.

    @STEVIED-You sound like the lawyer these guys probably retained.

    It is not illegal or against credit card rules for companies to offer a discount for cash. It also is OK to charge a surcharge for the use of pure DEBIT cards OR the DEBIT function of credit cards. What is illegal or against the rules is ADVERTISING different prices for credit card vs. cash prices, effectively imposing a surcharge on credit card usage.

    The rule is that companies accepting Visa and MC (and sometimes American Express) cannot ADVERTISE one price for cash and another price for credit. They have to ADVERTISE AND CHARGE the same price for both at the pump. BUT THEY CAN offer a cash discount AT THE REGISTER (2%, 3%, whatever), which would have to be computed and deducted as a separate transaction. With gasoline prices, this could also cause them tax issues with the tax authorities (is tax being charged on the discounted amount or the full amount? Did the owner also refund the tax difference also or pocket it? Parts of pennies add up over many transactions!).

    You will never find major chains adding a surcharge for credit card use (Chevron, Shell, Exxon, etc.) because they know the rules and that this practice is generally illegal. Stations that try this gambit tend to be small independents.

    Most people are not aware that this practice is a violation under Visa & MasterCard rules and that continuing violation can lead to loss of the businesses merchant account with the credit card company.

    Reporting these violations and getting action taken is never easy. Visa and MasterCard make the task difficult because you are supposed to report such violations to your own bank (the bank that issued your credit card). However, given that your bank may be across the country, they may not be very motivated to do much of anything about the problem reported.

    Technically, they are required by Visa credit card rules to investigate the allegation and they are supposed to report it to their own internal compliance department which is then supposed to investigate and/or report the incident to the main Visa/MasterCard compliance group.

    You may also encounter customer service people at the bank credit card company who do not know the rules themselves and may give you a hard time. Refer to the links below for further information that you may have to quote. In you keep getting flack, demand to speak to a supervisor.

    HOWEVER, NOTE THAT SINCE SURCHARGES ARE AGAINST VISA AND MASTERCARD RULES, you are entitled to a refund for the surcharge amount and should petition your credit card company to get your refund, even if it is pennies. You should file a dispute and demand that the difference between the cash price and the credit card be refunded to your account. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and the bank will credit your account with the full amount you paid for the gas, meaning you get a free tank of gas.

    Here are some relevant links:

    From:
    [www.usa.visa.com] – (Search the word SURCHARGE here)

    “No Surcharging – Always treat Visa transactions like any other transaction; that is, you may not impose any surcharge on a Visa transaction. You may, however, offer a discount for cash transactions, provided that the offer is clearly disclosed to customers and the cash price is presented as a discount from the standard price charged for all other forms of payment.”

    For Visa complaints and to bypass your local bank report incidents to:
    Web Site: http://www.usa.visa.com
    Email: VisaExecutiveInquiries@visa.com
    Voice 410.998.8379 or 800.921.5539

    Wikipedia entry for Visa:
    [en.wikipedia.org])

    California Civil Code:
    California Possesses a “No Surcharge Rule” for Consumer Purchases

    “No retailer . . . may impose a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check or similar means. . . .”
    Statute: Cal. Civ. Code § 1748.1(a) (West)

    Discounts for Cash Payments are allowed in California

    “A retailer may, however, offer discounts for the purpose of inducing payment by cash, check, or other means not involving the use of a credit card, provided that the discount is offered to all prospective buyers.”
    Statute: Cal. Civ. Code § 1748.1(a) (West)

    Statutes cover: Credit Cards only
    Statute: (Cal. Civ. Code § 1747.02(a) (West) (defining “credit card”)).

    Separate provisions for debit cards (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1748.30 – .32 (West))
    [www.todaysmoneymatters.org]

    You can also check your own state rules at the above link.

  105. StevieD says:

    @astrochimp:

    Credit card fees are a combination of various fixed fees and a percentage of the transaction. The fees and percentages are not indentical for all businesses and the percentages for a merchant may vary with the size of the transaction.

    The fees and percentage are based upon the primary business classification of the vendor, the volume of transactions typical for that industry as well as the specific merchants volume of transactions. The average size of the transactions for the industry and the merchant, the rate of merchandise returns typical of the industry as well as actual merchant returns. The rate of chargebacks for the industry and the merchant. The risk of stolen cards being used. The percentage of transactions complete over the counter versus online and mail order transactions. And the final factor, whether the merchant accepts more than one credit card.

    Do “better” than your industry classification and your fees and % will be lower.

    As a general rule jewelry stores are going to pay out their eyeballs in merchant fees whereas car dealerships with similar transaction volumes and transaction rates would pay lower fees simply due to the higher return rate common with the jewelry industry. A sit down family restaurant will have a much higher transaction rate than McD’s, but McD’s could have a greater volume of sales, so restaurants are subdivided into different classes with different fees.

    The fees are upfront amounts. Doing this late at night so I am going to skip the details. Basically there are 3 or 4(?) “fixed” fees that are common to every transaction. Does not matter how big or small the sales may be the fees are always accessed. Then other fees are charged and the percentage is charged.

    In total, I pay $3.17 right off the bat on any credit card transaction. I pay more in upfront fees because I am charged a variable % based upon the transaction amount and my number of transactions are relatively low in volume. The next business down the road might pay $0.50 right off the bat plus a fixed percentage that is much higher than my variable rate.

  106. StevieD says:

    @iamme99:

    Nope, not a lawyer. Never been to law school. Never had a desire to be a lawyer. I avoid lawyers like a STD.

  107. qwerty017 says:

    Part of the reason I can see for Credit Card companies to not require a picture ID is that one is not required to get a credit card. All you need is a credit hitory which also does not require a picture ID.

  108. nrwfos says:

    Credit cards have become a real liability to us. I never use a CC for a purchase under $20. I have had my CC accounts stolen and used on several occasions and it wasn’t nearly the headache to fix that trying to get everything replaced (and changed) when my Dh’s wallet was stolen was. I’ve had my CC number stolen and used from a purchase I made over the phone – luckily it was the only purchase – besides the fraudulent ones- that I had made on that card – it was previously paid off. Made it very easy to track down the phone teller that stole it. I never mind when vendors want to see my ID. I always have it ready to show at the checkout so it doesn’t take up extra time. It’s no more inconvenient than showing ID for a check – and a check has a lot of your information on it. It was really bad back when my state (VA) put your SSN as your driver’s license number. I had to make special request to get a number that wasn’t my SSN. I can’t imagine using a CC for fast food purchases. Unless I was absolutely starving and had no cash. And you wouldn’t believe how many vendors never even look to see if or how the CC is signed nevermind asking for ID.

  109. trollkiller says:

    @StevieD: So you get near lawyers when you are drunk???

  110. trollkiller says:

    @trollkiller: Should have read: “So you ONLY get near lawyers when you are drunk???”

    sorry

  111. mad_oak says:

    AT THE BOTTOM OF THE COMMENTS… So nobody will ever read this but… The credit card companies won’t let merchants request ID, but in the next breath the credit card companies REQUIRE an imprint of the card and a visual verification of the signature to “Perfect” the transaction. Anything less and the card companies can force a chargeback on the merchant. It don’t matter if you swipped your card and the mag strip got read. It don’t matter if you signed some receipt. The only locked down transaction is imprint of the card, signed AND THEN it costs the merchant some serious cash… say $20-$50 to actually send all that documentation back to Visa or Mastercard. Nice way to tell the merchants to eat the losses. Hell, it even costs that banks that issue the cards to initiate a charge back against the merchants. I know of one bank that worked a $20 minimum. Any chargoff below that they just credited instead of spending the money.

  112. kc2idf says:

    I wish I knew about no minimum when I last went to NYC. One of the delis in midtown demanded I increase my order before they would take a card.

  113. farris917 says:

    so if my college charges $15 to pay for tuition i can report them and get around the fee?

  114. lelele says:

    I think the reason that most people will go through the hassle of trying to complain to a CC for a minimum purchase is that when you try to persuade the merchant to just accept your card on the basis that they are violating their agreement, they could honestly care less. It can be frustrating, especially when the minimum purchase amount they require is more than the average price of what the lone person might be buying ($5.00 at an ice cream shop when the medium w/topping is $3.50). Yes, I know about merchant fees and I do think that it is unfortunate to have to pay them. But what about the inconvenience that I go through having to tack more purchases on my sale when I made the “mistake” of running out of cash at the last vendor? If you don’t want to pay those fees, just don’t take credit cards!

  115. RagingBoehner says:

    I have a question for the “SEE ID” camp. Doesn’t the proliferation of the self-swipe machines negate writing it on your card? Most places you use your card now you don’t even hand it to someone anyway. If you’re checking out at the grocery store do you swipe your card yourself, then hand your card and ID to the clerk?

  116. surgesilk says:

    The same people who think showing ID decreases CC fraud (or writing ‘show id’) also think airport security is effective and reasonable.

  117. MeOhMy says:

    So far no compelling reasons about all I got was: It’s the principle? Principle to help the credit card companies make more money while you screw both yourself and the small merchants? Do you also carry a balance so that you can pay them interest on principle, too???

    If they want to enforce this policy, they can either A) pay me or B) do their own dirty work.

    As IAMME99 indicates, they really don’t care to enforce it anyway.

  118. DashTheHand says:

    I was riding my motorcycle in the country this past summer and got a flat. It was excruciatingly hot and I had to push my bike half a mile to get it off the back roads with no shoulder to a small liquor store with a parking lot. I didn’t have any cash on me, just my ID and a credit card and my cell phone. So after I called for a tow, I went inside the liquor store and wanted to buy a bottle of water, to which I was refused because it was only a $2 purchase with a CC. I’ve never been so pissed.

  119. Monster Rain says:

    Just out of curiosity, if a merchant has two different prices for a good (cash vs. credit), does that practice also violate these merchant agreements as well?

    Vendors at computer shows, for example, are notorious for charging a higher price for a product if you are buying it with a credit card.

  120. trollkiller says:

    @surgesilk: How many guns get confiscated at the airport each year? How many thieves get stopped by an ID each year. The answer to both is; more than you will ever know.

    Until the credit card companies say “don’t worry merchant, we won’t take away your money for that fraudulent charge due to our policy” businesses will continue to protect themselves by asking for ID.

    As you can see there is no huge crackdown, why? The businesses will tell the CC companies to piss off. When the risk out weighs the rewards, businesses will drop the risk. Don’t believe me? Count how many businesses won’t take checks.

  121. trollkiller says:

    @Monster Rain: Depends on how it is presented. If it presented as a cash discount then no violation. If it is presented as a surcharge then violation.

    Example: Widget $3.99 cash price $2.99 = no violation
    Widget $2.99 credit card price $3.99 = violation

    Just a matter of wording.

  122. Kevin Cotter says:

    Merchants are supposed to pay for the right and privilege of being able to accept credit cards. That works fine for the giant chains and corporations who negotiate lower fees, rates, and rules. The local merchant has to accept higher per transaction fee and higher percentage fees than chains across the street. This combined with the way they attempt to charge-back everything to the merchant really puts some mom & pop shops at a disadvantage.

    Wonder why some shops want additional ID? They pay a transactions fee plus a percentage on the purchase, and then Visa/MC/AmEx will attempt a charge-back on a fraudulent charge. With the charge-back you pay an additional transactions fee and percentage on the return, again.

    How about my buddy’s psychotic wife, who refuses to try clothes on, at the store. She regularly buys thousands worth of clothes on credit and returns them all, only to do it again. Merchant pays all fees both ways.

    The neighborhood merchant is forced to sign into these agreements or close shop. Because, like many of you have stated, you will only go to places that accept credit/debit cards. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The free lunch you get with the 1% cash back is being made up as merchants slowly raise prices as the cost of doing business has been completely nullified in many cases.

    The credit card companies (Visa/MC/AmEx) all seem to have similar rules, with all costs pointing in their favor, and ultimately against the consumer in higher prices. Prove collusion under an oligopoly under the Sherman Act and all consumers and local merchants might win (who’s kidding who, only the lawyers will win). Or, prepare for more bog box merchants with low salaries as they replace the rest of the local and small businesses across the country. Hello Wall-Mart!

  123. Maulleigh says:

    Thank you so much for posting this information. I’ve thought of whistle blowing in the past but then it’s such a pain in the patootie. Wish I could just send pictures of the place.

  124. Jay Levitt says:

    @surgesilk: Very well put.

  125. mistaketv says:

    I’ve worked several retail jobs where we were required by company policy to check IDs with credit card transactions, but I never once rejected a sale based on the signature not matching. I would go through the motions of “checking the signatures,” but even when they were obviously different, I had no incentive to care and every reason not to.

  126. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    On a side note: I always thank the merchant for checking my ID with my drivers license. I know they get alot of flack from people all day because they check.

  127. Jay Levitt says:

    @Ben: Since I harshed on you for the last post, I have to say: Great followup. Lotsa good detail. *This* is what Consumerist should always be!

  128. ibelieveinsteve says:

    This what i dont understand, which inconvence do you like more. someone checking you id for you to buy something, or you losing your wallet and because they don’t check id you credit card is maxed by the end of the day…and you have the headache of straighting it all out, or better yet your kid takes your card and charges a bunch of stuff on it that you can’t have the credit card company mark as desputed without them arresting your child, and now you have to pay it back…i work in retail, we check id’s to protect customers and business. is it really that big a deal?

  129. Jorel says:

    small businesses are NOT screwed over by the transaction fees. because on average people purchase more when they use credit cards–often 10% or more on average. also some people purchase things on credit when they would not have bought anything at all if they didn’t have alternatives. this more than makes up for the small cent difference they lose on a $5.00 purchase versus a $10.00 purchase or a $10.00 purchase versus a $20.00 purchase. on average is plays out better for the business–this is why they are accepting credit cards in the first place. they aren’t just doing you a favor by accepting credit cards they are doing themselves a favor.

  130. trollkiller says:

    @Jorel: Please cite where CC user are more likely to buy 10% more.

    True businesses normally are not doing you a favor by taking credit cards. If a business does accept a credit card for an amount that fess would negate or exceed the profit then they are doing you a favor.

    And yes they are screwed over by high transaction fees. Just because something is still profitable does not mean you are not getting screwed.

  131. rikkus256 says:

    @DallasDMD: If the store stops accepting credit cards, this business won’t last long.

  132. trollkiller says:

    @rikkus256: Funny they said the same thing about checks.

  133. Ressly says:

    Credit vs. Cash for Gas: From the Rules for Visa Merchants: “Always treat Visa transactions like any other transaction; that is, you may not impose any surcharge on a Visa transaction. You may, however, offer a discount for cash transactions, provided that the offer is clearly disclosed to customers and the cash price is presented as a discount from the standard price charged for all other forms of payment.” In fact, California Civil Code section 1748 voids the contract provision if a card issuer prohibits merchants from offering cash discounts.

    ID can be required in California: Even though Visa’s rules say that merchants cannot refuse transactions if a cardholder refuses to provide ID, CA state law does allow merchants to require it (from CA Civil Code section 1747.08): “This section does not prohibit any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation from requiring the cardholder, as a condition to accepting the credit card as payment in full or in part for goods or services, to provide reasonable forms of positive identification, which may include a driver’s license or a California state identification card, or where one of these is not available, another form of photo identification, provided that none of the information contained thereon is written or recorded on the credit card transaction form or otherwise.”

  134. hektik says:

    I have a store. Most merchant fees range between ).17 – .22/per swipe and then anywhere from 0.7 – 2.0 percent of the item charged.

    So on a $10 swipe… the merchant might lose out on .40.
    Not really a big deal. And yes, we do pay higher percentages for rewards + business cards.

    I don’t have a minimum. It really only bites into “profit” if you have people charging things that are $1.

  135. Joe S Chmo says:

    I have experience working in a few banks and have dealt with chargebacks and even attended a VISA chargeback seminar which has been a real eye opener. People believe things that are just not true. For one the merchants are NOT required to VERIFY the signature on the back of the card vs the signature on the receipt. They are only required to VERIFY that the card AND receipt are both signed. Technically, the names do NOT have to even match. This is to the benefit of the merchants who do not want to be chargedback due to a signature not matching.

    Once the card is swiped and they get the approval, there is nothing more than keeping the signed receipt on file for a potential chargeback that the merchant has to do. If you are a merchant and have $800 in chargebacks this is because you did NOT keep the receipt showing that it was signed. It has nothing to do with asking for ID. In fact asking for ID is acting like all of your customers are thieves much like asking to show a receipt at the door when you obviously just came from the register.

    I have refused to show ID when asked and the clerk has just gone through with the sale anyway. I have also shown the ID when I have forgotten to sign a new card.
    I did return an item immediately at Radio Shack after showing ID because the other clerk started yelling at me that it was for my benefit so they lost that $30 sale and all future battery sales from me.

    Most of the time I avoid this confrontation by having my wife pay. I have called my bank about merchants requesting ID and they seem to think that it is ok so it is a waste of time fighting the ignorance of the retailers and bank reps. I also don’t see the point in fighting over the minimum charge although I have at times not had cash on me.

    Lastly, customers are NOT responsible for any charges if your card is lost or stolen. You have to report it right away and dispute all charges as soon as you realize your card is lost or stolen. Also, don’t forget to dispute ATM withdrawals as well if they are not done by you.

  136. lushlily says:

    Ok, what about the asking for personal information though? Guitar Center in NYC asked for a picture ID, and then my address, and THEN my phone number. When I told them I don’t give out my personal information, they told me they NEEDED it so the banks could prevent credit card fraud involved with the sale of musical instruments. I smelled a lot of bullshit, because I was buying a $20 songbook. Finally I got the guy to admit that they were putting me on some list so they could call me and send me crap in the mail. I reported them to Visa because they lied to my face and had no qualms about doing so.

  137. macgyver314 says:

    @astrochimp:
    Credit card fees are always two part. A fixed fee and a percent. A normal fee for a merchant would be in the area of 25 cents + 2.5% of the transaction.

  138. macgyver314 says:

    @macgyver314:
    Sorry. Didn’t see page two of the comments before posting.

  139. Jorel says:

    @trollkiller: A Dunn and Bradstreet study stated that if you pay with a credit card, you will statistically spend 12%-18% more on your purchases as opposed to paying with cash.

  140. Murdermonkey says:

    @nemesiscw:
    yeah its 75 cents it always pisses me off.

  141. mr mike says:

    @Troy F.:

    They are referring to a minimum charge to use a credit card. The delivery minimum does not count.

  142. kathyl says:

    A new comment on old article is strangely out of place, I know, but thanks for this post. I just used the instructions here to report a retailer to my card issuer, because they were not only in violation of their merchant agreement, but they were rude and nasty about it, as well.

    Thanks Consumerist!

  143. Anonymous says:

    I’ve gotten screwed twice by this: 1. I was kicked out of walmart in Oneida, NY for refusing to show ID with my credit card, and 2. I was fired from Gamestop in Syracuse for putting someones sale through when the customer refused ID with THEIR cc ( management required me to ask, I didn”t know better at the time.) Upstate/Central NY has the most idiotic people running (large) businesses.

  144. RichardShooter says:

    This only glances off the surface of *my* favorite card issue: I’ve been told for (literally) decades that merchants aren’t allowed to surcharge card purchases…

    so how do gas stations get away with it?

    They don’t even bother with the “cash discount” subterfuge these days, though they should never have been allowed to in the first place…

    If they *accepted* checks, at the higher rate, then I’d call it a “cash discount”, but most don’t.

  145. ccon2 says:

    I just had a merchant in CA say there is a California state law which allows them to have a minimum purchase when accepting credit cards. Does anyone know if that is correct?

  146. Xav says:

    For anyone clicking on this article late (in the 3-1/2 years since it was posted), businesses are now allowed to have a minimum. You may still report a merchant for demanding an ID–though have you noticed that more stores seem to ask for it in–ahem–certain areas?

    As to “what’s wrong with asking for an ID”? Many seniors do not have a current drivers license–it’s enough of a hassle for them to find someone to take them to a store. Many of them have their adult children use their cards to get them what they need. It’s just easier for the elderly parent. Also, notice the latest hubbub over the possibility of having VOTERS show ID? It’s very sticky.