Struggling with a newly-issued debit card, Alice Dominguez of Fresno in the United States took cash to buy groceries at her local Save Mart. She had missed a tiny sign by the register informing customers that payments were now card-only, and staff would not make an exception for her. She left the store empty-handed.
Just a three-hour drive from Fresno, San Francisco has protections for consumers who must, or choose to pay using cash, with a bill introduced in 2019 that banned cashless retailers across the city. Similarly, New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey have taken steps to protect consumer payment choice, banning cashless businesses.
Dominguez—who said she felt ‘terrible’ and was embarrassed by the experience—does not plan to return to the shop that refused her legal tender, despite having been a regular customer for years. Her daughter, Priscilla Chavez, has filed a complaint with Save Mart over the incident.
With even e-commerce giant Amazon conceding that cashless policies are discriminatory and ensuring their cashierless stores are equipped to accept cash payments, and US Senators proposing a bill forbidding merchants from banning cash during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is at least hope that experiences such as Dominguez’s will remain an exception in future.
In the United States of America, 83 percent of small business owners say they will never stop accepting cash.