Minimum purchase rules not allowed

February 22, 2008
By

I wonder if restaurant owners in Jamaica Plain read their agreements with Visa and MasterCard carefully. I recently tried to use my card to pay for lunch that did not quite come to $10. The waiter and the manager at the restaurant on Centre Street that I will no longer be patronizing were adamant about a $10 minimum purchase in order to use my card. I did not have cash with me, so I had to leave the restaurant and find a bank machine to pay my bill.

Minimum purchase requirements violate both Visa and MasterCard policy. Several restaurants in JP have signs very clearly posted requiring some minimum purchase in order to use a card. No, it does not matter if it is a credit or a debit card. Yes, merchants have to pay a small fee per card transaction. I think that paying this small fee and counting it as a “cost of doing business” is much less expensive than the negative review I will be giving to all my friends about this restaurant.

If businesses accept Visa and MasterCard as a convenience for their customers, then they must accept them no matter what the amount of the charge is. Otherwise, they should return to cash only. Either way, they’re losing customers.

Jim Olson
Jamaica Plain