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Front Page » July 15, 2014 » Opinion » When cold hard cash doesn't work
Published 13 days ago

When cold hard cash doesn't work


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

When did the world change so much that businesses stopped wanting my money?

The other day I was in a business that I have done transactions with dozens of times over the years. As I walked up to the counter I noticed a sign posted that stated the business would no longer take cash payments, but instead would take credit/debit cards only.

I was blown away...I had heard that cash was going to be a thing of the past, but seriously?

I am not sure of the reasons. The person working the counter told me that the corporate people who own the business had made the decision.

It isn't like I spend a lot of cash there...I almost always pay with by debit card. But if I bought something for $49.95, shouldn't I have the choice to pay for it in cash?

I totally understand why some businesses don't take checks, certain or all credit cards, debit cards, bubble gum cards or rocks from little boys pockets. But I still don't understand not taking cash.

I was once at a dinner in Chicago with a friend at a convention. He was reasonably well off and had invited 14 people to join him for dinner. He pulled out an American Express card at the end of the dinner and handed it to one of the line of waiters that had made our meal superb.

"We don't take American Express, sir," said the waiter.

My friend then pulled out in order a Diners Club card, a Visa card, a Mastercard and a preferred Chase card. The waiter told him they did not take any credit cards at all.

They would not take his check, either.

"But sir, if you have a business card, we can bill you," said the waiter. We were all blown away. There wasn't a person from Chicago at the table, yet they were willing to trust the bill to this guy's business card.

And so they did.

You may not thing this thing about cash is a big problem, but try buying a drink or try paying for something else on board an airliner these days...the majors don't take cash anymore. So they will not only not give you a pillow or a blanket for free, but are happy to pad the big banks' 'bottom lines with fees to let you have some comfort.

There are places in the lodging industry where large complexes of shopping and dining options are available. Some of those under one business owner and they do not take cash. In New York a couple of years ago I heard that a number of restaurants around that town no longer take the green stuff either.

But when I saw this locally, it seemed, well...UnAmerican. It told the counter person that I thought it was illegal to not accept cash for payment. I mean after all doesn't it state right on a $20 bill that "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." Importantly it says that right under the gaze of President Andrew Jackson, who would have just as soon shoot you as look at you.

But upon investigation I found out there is no law, federally anyway, that prevents businesses from deciding that they don't want your cold, hard cash anymore. Some states apparently have laws that force businesses to take it, but not Utah. I mean you know we are in the land of milk and honey and non-regulation, just like our governor likes it.

So there is no recourse. I thought sure this could be cleared up but it was not to be.

So I did a little more research and it seems the reason this was done was not for you and I, the lowly customers good, but because it makes it easier to do business for those that are supposed to serve us. Strike another wonderful victory for customer service that continues to slide into oblivion.

Just like pay phones that used to be on every convenience store wall, soda machines that dispensed glass bottles, vinyl records that while produced background and distortion, really made music sound like it was actually performed and cars made out of steel rather than plastic, cash will be fading away. Won't that be a quaint thing to talk about with your great grand kids when you are 90.

"You mean you used to actually go in a store with paper and get stuff," they will ask you one day."How cool!!!" they will say.

Yeah cool. Just like my dads 1959 Rambler I was forced to drive was to me when I was 16.

So now I can't wait for the day when my bank account is low (as it almost always is the day before payday) and I pull into a drive up fast burger joint. Realizing the lack of funds I dig through my glove compartment to put together four quarters for something on the dollar menu and then just as I am about to pay some gum chewing, tattoo on the cheeks wearing teenager will tell me I can't get anything with the fake silver I have been saving in the confines of my car for weeks.

It will be the beginning of the end for my addiction to junk food.

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