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D.C. cafe only takes plastic

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Be sure to have your credit card or debit card on hand in case the mood for crepes strikes you while in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.  As reported by National Public Radio, neighborhood café Snap, which specializes in crepes as well as bubble tea, made the switch about five months ago to a plastic-only policy.

While the staff commonly must explain the no cash policy, NPR noted that most customers said that although the rule was new to them, they didn't consider it a problem to pay only with a credit card or debit card.  The odd customer may get upset at the rule or question whether it is legal to refuse cash, but Snap is in the clear.  In Washington, D.C., it is perfectly legal for a business to refuse cash -- it is just a very uncommon practice.

Meanwhile, Snap's owner seems to feel the decision to forgo cash in favor of credit cards and debit cards has made things simpler -- with few trips to the bank now necessary and no more concerns about making change.  Additionally, she remarked that the cashless policy solves certain problems specific to small business owners, including how to keep cash safe and how to trust employees in the café when she can't be there. 

While in the past the owner relied on a trusted worker to make trips to the bank, the issue remained of what to do if that reliable employee couldn't be at work.  Also, the owner remarked that as the business expands, it could become hard to trust employees she didn't know well with the café's money.

To resolve these issues, Snap's owner contacted the company responsible for processing the café's credit card transactions.  After explaining her plan to go all-plastic, the company, which charged her a fee for every card transaction, agreed to lower its rates in exchange for the added business.

That particular credit card merchant processor stated that while it does not encourage businesses to only accept plastic, it does consider lowering its fees as a merchant becomes a larger customer.  While this might not be a true harbinger of the once-predicted "cashless" society, it is still a rather interesting development.

Published: October 17, 2006


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