New Jersey bill banning discrimination against consumers paying with cash

calendar iconDec 10, 2018

In fierce defence of cash, lawmakers in New Jersey are fighting to ban retailers from discriminating against cash payments with Bill S2785.

If passed, the law would apply fines on cashless brick-and-mortar shops up to $2500 for the first offence and up to twice as much for the second.

The primary argument behind the cash-protecting law is a socio-economic one: Why should shops or restaurants refuse a customer because they want to, or can only, pay with cash?

The phrase 'your money's no good here' brings to mind a long-awaited meeting between old friends with one affectionately treating the other to a hot meal and board in an expression of hospitality... but when retailers say the same thing when refusing customers who can only pay cash, the phrase takes on a deeply sinister meaning. It means, your kind isn't welcome here. What was once 'No shoes, no shirts, no service' becomes 'No permanent address, no bank account, no credit score, no tech know-how, no children, no service.'

'I think about this issue of cash-free stores all the time - especially with all the ice cream shops around me going cashless. How terrible would it be to take your kids to get ice cream and get turned away because you don't have access to a credit card?'
"Tweet by Meeta Agrawal @meeta (Dec 7, 2018)Arts & Leisure EditorNew York Times

It is in protest against the trend of discriminatory cashless business models that American Democratic politician Nelida "Nellie" Pou (Member of the New Jersey Senate from the 35th district) introduced Bill S2785. The straight-forward, one-page statement is currently awaiting a second reading on December 3rd, 2018 after amendments to the first. During the third reading, the committee will vote and if passed, it will be on track to become a law.

The first vote on the bill was delayed due to objections from Amazon and Walmart, concerned with how this would affect their own cashless initiatives. Even though all American dollar banknotes have written on them, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private", companies such as Sweetgreens, Amazon Go and Starbucks are rejecting cash paying customers and politicians are speaking up against them.

Excerpt from Statement No. 2785

The Senate Commerce Committee reports favourably and with committee amendments Senate Bill No. 2785.

This bill, as amended, prohibits discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash.

Specifically, the bill prohibits a person from selling or offering for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash. The bill applies to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or Internet-based transactions.

Related content

New Jersey Journal Cashless shopping is great for some, but it shouldn't be required for all | Quigley

Pou, who has always been an advocate for consumers, expressed concern about low-income people who don't have access to credit cards or Apple Pay, and she's right. But I thought of so many other ways no-cash rules could affect all of us.

New York Times How the Cashless Economy Shuts Out the Poor
There are various arguments to be made against cashless businesses — the inconvenience falling to people too scattered to leave the house with a wallet being merely one of them. The strongest objection relates to the ways in which rejecting physical currency plays out as a bias toward the poor, advancing segregation in retail environments.

Last Updated: Sep 9, 2021

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