Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Rene: If any menu item on your menu is over $8, you have no business being a cash only restaurant. Now listen, many restaurants and food purveyors will tell you they are cash only to keep their prices down. The theory is if they don't have to pay the credit card companies 3-5% a month for the right to take credit cards, they can pass the savings on to you. But when was the last time you walked into a cash only restaurant and said, "Hey this po-boy shop's prices are 3-5% lower than the one that is cash only." If you are a snowball stand, bakery, or coffee shop, I'm fine with you being cash only. Otherwise, the 21st century is paging you, please take cards.
Peter: You are beginning to sound like the Dean. Case in point, this quote from his restaurant review of Ciro's Cote Sud on July 7, 2010: "The cash-or-check payment policy is an absurd inconvenience to enforce upon customers, and causes one to order less food and wine than one otherwise might. (How much cash is in your pocket right now?)" Saving that 3-5% may not be manifested in lower prices on the menu, but it is certainly recognized as a value to the customer in some other manner. How do you know? Because if Restaurant A consistently charged 3-5% more for the same exact food as Restaurant B next door, all other things being equal, which would you go to and which would be closed down in a matter of months? Let consumer preference determine if cash only is a make or break point of contention for diners. Last time I checked, Mandina's and Casamento's were not hurting for customers.
Rene: The use of debit cards and credit cards as a cash substitute has roughly skyrocketed since last time I checked. I don't carry cash. Mostly it is because it makes your hands smell like a trailer park in Piscataway. But also, when does anyone give me cash? Paychecks are directly deposited and bill payments automatically scheduled, making the necessity of going to a bank or writing a check obsolete as the rhythm method of birth control. You can buy gas without even have to interact with a human being. The only drugs I buy are purchased with a Health Savings Account card. Our currency system is more plastic than a bored housewife on Bravo. I use cash primarily for two purposes: cab rides home and purchasing a Sunday newspaper. Suspicion says many of you are the same way. There is only one reason why restaurants don't take cards and it is to avoid or hide revenue from the Internal Revenue Service.
Peter: Since when did carrying cash become an inconvenience? I will wager (in cash, of course) that every full service, cash-only restaurant in the city also has an ATM on premises. Your next argument might be, "Well, some people carry only a credit card and not a debit card." As the son of a man who has spent his entire career collecting overdue debt for credit card companies, I can tell you one thing: If you don't have a checking account, then you sure don't need a credit card either. Remember not too long ago when the Dow dropped below 7000? A lot of that had to do with banks lending money to people for houses that they could not afford. Same goes for people trying to use credit cards for their Chicken a la Grande at Mosca's.
Rene: Here though is what really irks me. Last week Peter and I went to Tracey's, the new old Parasol's. They accept cash only because of the "fees". Their prices are right on the borderline of this being acceptable. I was directed towards an ATM in the corner. Where guess what, it charged me $2.50 fee to withdraw money. Add that to my bank's $2 non-bank ATM fee, and you are looking at almost $5 in fees to purchase an $8 po-boy. Just so we are clear, Tracey's (and other places) don't want to pay the credit card companies a fee, but they are perfectly fine with me having to pay the fee. What makes this even more sickening, is that the restaurant often gets a fee from the operator of the ATM for allowing it to be in his restaurant. Talk about not having cake but getting to eat it anyway. Or something like that.
Peter: You know what really aggravates me? When service slows down because my waiter has to run 4 different credit cards for one check, and I am talking about other tables as well as my own table. Nothing is worse than when the bill hits the table and four different people pull out credit cards to pay; the facial expression on the server tells it all. I think that "no separate checks" should be added under the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The problem is even worse when you talk about restaurants where you order at the counter.
Rene: Here is the real kicker. So I am standing in front of the ATM at Tracey's, waiting, waiting, typing, waiting, agreeing to a loan shark style fee, and waiting some more. After five minutes of "Processing ", the machine tells me it is "Unable to Complete the Transaction at this Time". Luckily, Peter carries cash and bought me lunch. Unluckily, the machine forgot to tell my bank that it had no money to give me, so my account was charged $24.50 and received $0 of that. The negotiations with the bank for the refund of that amount have gone less than successful. And that is why we got this rant. Conclusion: if you are a restaurant that refuses to take cards and has an on site ATM that charges a fee, you sir are a hypocrite. Lose the fee at the ATM and I will wholeheartedly agree with your stance. But you charge me a fee to play by your rules, I won't stand for it. Consider this the rallying cry of the A.Tea M. Party.
Peter: Look, I'm not hear to argue about the fees charged either by ATMs themselves or by banks to use ATMs. I am simply a voice for the group of people who carry cash, don't mind paying in cash, and feel that we deserve some kind of break from the 3-5% fee that we are not responsible for. So here is my solution. On occasion I find myself driving from Atlanta to the Blue Ridge mountains to visit my aunt and uncle in their summer home in Cashiers, North Carolina. Upon entering South Carolina, I immediately start noticing that gas station billboards have two prices posted for the same grade of unleaded: one price for cash customers and one price for credit/debit customers. The sign might read: "$2.41-Cash and $2.45-Credit/Debit." I think that this is ingenious and can only dream that restaurants will employ the same price structure so that everyone pays for exactly what costs they are incurring. But it will never happen, because the same people who complain about a restaurant only accepting cash will be the same people who complain about a discount for cash customers.
So what say you about cash only restaurants? We want to hear your opinions in the comments.
And to make sure that you are not caught with an empty money clip the next time the check hits the table, here is a list of New Orleans restaurants that only accept cash. Unless noted, their ATMs charge a fee. Did we forget one? Let us know in the comments:
Adolfo's, Bacchanal, Barcelona Tapas (no ATM fee), Bennachin, Cafe du Monde, Casamento's, Ciro's Cote Sud, Creole Creamery, Tracey's, La Pupuseria Macarena, Liuzza's on Bienville, Mandina's, Mosca's, Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe, Surrey's, Taqueria D.F., Willie Mae's Scotch House and Ye Olde College Inn (ATM fee taken off check). .
Posted by Rene at 6:55 AM