Consumers ‘don’t want to be nickel and dimmed’ for credit card use

Tim Freeman is both a small business owner and consumer who regularly uses his credit card.

Freeman, owner of Altima Tan in Springfield Township, recently reached out to complain about the growing number of companies he notices that charge customers for using their credit cards.

After:To cope with record inflation, Americans have opened a record number of credit cards

This has happened to him and his wife twice recently at what he considers high-end restaurants.

When the bill arrived and Freeman paid with his credit card, there was a notice on his credit card receipt stating that there would be a 2.5% charge for any purchase made entirely with a credit card. credit.

“It was a bit late in the game for me to run to the ATM and get some cash,” said Freeman, who said he was carrying no more than $20. “We’ve been trained for years to use a credit card because it’s so convenient.”

As a business owner, Freeman understands the rising costs of doing business. But he doesn’t think passing on credit card surcharges is the way to go.

“Credit card fees have always been a cost of doing business. It’s something we’ve absorbed and included in our prices, like electricity,” Freeman said. “Because I own a tanning salon, we don’t have a supplement for electricity when our price goes up.”

Betty Lin Fisher

Freeman said he understands that business costs are rising. But as a consumer, he prefers the company to raise the price of the goods and let the consumers decide if they want to pay for the goods instead of what he calls surcharges for using credit cards.

“These companies clearly have no compassion for what people are going through with inflation attacking their disposable income at every turn. Apparently they also don’t understand how fragile their relationship with their customers is,” said Freeman.

He said he would stop going to companies that charge surcharges.

Consumers don’t want to be “nickel and dim”

According to a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, nothing in Ohio law prevents businesses from adding a surcharge for credit card fees or requiring a minimum purchase to charge a fee. purchase.

The practice is allowed in most states, said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com. The exceptions are Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, he said.

Consumers “don’t want to be nickel and dimmed for everything,” Rossman said. “You don’t want to have a certain line for credit card processing and a line for heating or air conditioning and rent and employee health insurance and bathroom use. It becomes a bit silly at one point.

Rossman said a Morning Consult survey commissioned by American Express in 2021 showed that 78% of consumers agree that a supplement makes them feel like a company doesn’t like their purchase.

An equally strong majority (77%) agreed that if given the chance, they would do business elsewhere rather than pay extra, Rossman wrote in a post he shared on the subject.

Surcharges have “proven to be an unpopular concept, but it is a concept that seems to be spreading more widely. I think it’s shortsighted on the part of the companies implementing it and I think it might put off their employees,” Rossman said.

Some retailers, but not many, have also turned to offering discounts for paying cash to try to discourage credit card use, Rossman said.

Many gas stations in Ohio have decided to offer some type of “discount” or lower price if the customer signs up for a payment program via direct payment from a checking account – which has no fees for the customer or retailer — instead of credit card payments.

Rossman said he feels gas stations that display different prices for credit card and non-credit card purchases aren’t viewed as critical by consumers.

“What I think people really don’t like are surprise fees,” Rossman said.

“The thing is, I think people don’t like that ‘gotcha’ fee on a bill,” he said. “When you find out your receipt has this extra element you didn’t expect, it just rubs people the wrong way. It causes a lot of uproar on social media and I’ve heard of companies who had to back down and sometimes the business owner was well-meaning.

“Sometimes I hear the business owner think ‘the supplement was better from a PR perspective (PR) because that means it’s temporary or I don’t profit or I don’t profit not…but actually, I don’t’ I don’t think he sits well.”

Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ To see her most recent stories and columns, go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher

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