I am 26 years old and own a small business in Arroyo Grande. Tough economic times have caused me to scrutinize every aspect of how my business is run and the biggest (and seemingly unnecessary) drain on my bank account is the 65 cents (on average) that Visa charges me on every transaction for the privilege of accepting Visa/MasterCard. My solution to this problem was to add a surcharge of 50 cents to all sales paid with a debit or credit card. I was not looking to rip anybody off or even make a profit from the surcharge —I still lose 15 cents! However, I was notified by the California Attorney General’s office that I would be heavily fined if I continued with the surcharge. I went onto Visa’s website and they strictly prohibit any fees added by merchants on a Visa card transaction.
OK, I understand that I must obey the law and discontinue the surcharge. Then I started thinking about the businesses that I go to that charge me a transaction fee when I use my Visa card. Let’s start with ARCO.
We are all familiar with the 45-cent transaction fee added to our tank of gas when we use a card instead of cash at ARCO. I called ARCO’s corporate office and I asked them if they ever get fined. They replied that they do not get fined and that this practice is legal.
The State’s Attorney General’s Office and the San Luis Obispo Economic Crime Unit have not returned my phone calls.
Next is the Carl’s Jr. on Broad Street in the Marigold Shopping Center, where I was charged a dollar for using my Visa card. How is this legal?
This country is in an economic toilet. The government is getting bigger and spending more and that inevitably means higher taxes, especially on small businesses. This just seems to be another story of corporations squashing the little guy.