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Thread: Legal Tender for All Debts, Public and Private

  1. #1

    Question Legal Tender for All Debts, Public and Private

    Your paper money says, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." But some businesses don't want your physical money. They only want your virtual money, which you pay with credit and debit cards. It is a trend that is growing increasingly popular in restaurants. Printing something on money doesn't make it the law. But still. Should it be legal for businesses to refuse to accept cash?

    A New York City council member is proposing that the city outlaw businesses that don’t accept cash, the Associated Press reports.

    Democratic City Councilman Ritchie Torres represents a part of the Bronx where one in four households have no bank account, the NY Daily News said. Citywide, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lack a credit or debit card.

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    The article says a number of other cities are considering bans on businesses that refuse cash. So far, only the State of Massachusetts requires businesses to accept cash. That has been the law in Massachusetts since 1978.

    The greenback, of course, remains “legal tender for all debts, public and private”—it says so right there on the bills in your wallet, if you still carry any. But until you’ve made a deal with someone, you don’t have any debt. Courts have sided again and again with merchants who refuse coins or currency “on a reasonable basis,” a Treasury spokesperson explained, “such as when doing so increases efficiency, prevents incompatibility problems with the equipment employed to accept or count the money, or improves security.” That’s why an ice-cream shop can refuse to take $100 bills or why a transit agency can direct bus drivers only to accept coins for fares.

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    Could this become an issue in the 2020 presidential election? It's certainly possible. Considering how many candidates there are likely to be, they will be looking for something that will catch the public attention.

    At a minimum, the law should require a prominent sign in such businesses so that you will know before entering or ordering. Otherwise, this could happen..

    A woman recounted her recent experience at a hair salon to the Wall Street Journal:

    Sam Schreiber was mid-shampoo at a Drybar blow-dry salon in Los Angeles when someone from the front desk approached her stylist with an emergency: a woman was trying to pay for her blow-out with cash.

    “There was this beat of silence,” says Ms. Schreiber, 33 years old. “She literally brought $40.”

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    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.

  2. #2
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    It is legal for debts. A tow company can't refuse your legal currency. A store selling something can (and should be able to) though, because you don't owe them a debt.
    Last edited by Gelston; 01-03-2019 at 03:29 PM.
    Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

  3. #3

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    Tricky. I want to say that businesses should be allowed to do what they want to do, but there's an access/entry barrier for non-cash payment in some cases. Gam gam is probably never going to be able to use ApplePay, should she be blocked from shopping at certain stores? Debit cards are a bit more obtainable, but if someone doesn't have a bank account should they be blocked from buying something at the 711? Seems weird. I don't know why you'd want to turn customers away just because they want to use cash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by audioserf View Post
    Tricky. I want to say that businesses should be allowed to do what they want to do, but there's an access/entry barrier for non-cash payment in some cases. Gam gam is probably never going to be able to use ApplePay, should she be blocked from shopping at certain stores? Debit cards are a bit more obtainable, but if someone doesn't have a bank account should they be blocked from buying something at the 711? Seems weird. I don't know why you'd want to turn customers away just because they want to use cash.
    I think it is dumb because it actually costs the stores money to accept cards. Sure, they just add it to the price, but whatever.
    Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

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    It's a fine line, and a tough decision. At some point, it's probably all going virtual, but paper money is free to use. There are fees involved with debit and credit cards, both for the person using them and the store accepting them. In the cities where this is becoming an issue, getting a bank account or debit card are not really problems. You can open a checking account in New York or New Jersey for a $5 minimum balance.

    Personally I get annoyed when people try to give me cash or when they don't accept credit/debit, and I'm now in a more rural area. That means I have to take a trip to a bank to deposit money (which is 25 minutes away). In the city if somebody hands me cash I can just deposit it into my account at an ATM. Nobody would hand me cash though. I have my debit cards. I have credit cards. I can charge it to my phone. To my paypal. Cash is the bottom of the list, and most city dwellers have about that same hierarchy.

    But money is money, and paper currency still exists. Until it no longer exists, people are going to want to use it. I'd say, yeah, fine, feel free to not accept cash. It's your business. But require that it be prominently displayed on entry that you don't. You're just going to run into problems any other way.

  6. #6

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    But some businesses don't want your physical money.
    This is a dumb decision.
    Last edited by Astray; 01-03-2019 at 04:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Astray View Post
    This is a dumb decision.
    Makes sense for some things, tbh. Places where you don't want employees to have to worry about cash, like the roving vendors at sporting events and stuff.
    Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gelston View Post
    Makes sense for some things, tbh. Places where you don't want employees to have to worry about cash, like the roving vendors at sporting events and stuff.
    Or places with high prevalence of counterfeit currency or robbery. "We don't have any money here" is a pretty strong deterrent to being held up. 7-11's been using a kind of slowdown system for years. They have no more than X dollars in the register, and while they do have more in the store, the employee has to press a button to dispense money, and it won't dispense more than X dollars per minute. So if you want a significant amount, you've got to wait for the employee at the safe to press the button for an hour to get out more than a couple hundred bucks.

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    Most airlines don't accept cash on their inflight services anymore either.
    Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

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    Some places it's the exact opposite. Like for gas if you pay in cash they give you a discount of a few cents. Cash is better for certain businesses.

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