At the Gavel Grill restaurant in the St. George’s section of Staten Island, the convenience of using a credit card now comes at a cost: eighty cents per transaction.
“I don’t think that’s right,” says Clarence Newman. “They are getting the price that they’ve asked for, they’re getting the tax on it. So, why should there be an extra charge? That should not be the customer’s responsibility.”
Craig Druyan disagrees. “It depends on the restaurant. I understand they have to do that sometimes,” he says.
New York was one of ten states that banned stores from imposing surcharges for credit card use. That drew a legal challenge by a group of merchants.
Last year, New York's highest court ruled its okay for businesses to impose a fee for a credit card swipe, as long as the charge is clearly displayed in dollars and cents.
A receipt from the Panini Grill, a restaurant on Forest Avenue in the West Brighton section, shows a 55-cent charge to pay by credit card, almost 4 percent of the bill for $15.25.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” says Diane Jones of the credit card surcharges.
Restaurants and markets across Staten Island are posting notices in windows, on counters, and in menus, advising customers of the new surcharges.
The National Retail Federation says such charges typically range from 2 to 4 percent – basically what credit card companies charge merchants for each transaction.
“What we’re seeing now is that merchants are passing that fee along to the customer because the fees are getting higher and the cost of doing business is getting higher and higher,” says Linda Barran of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Federation, businesses collectively spend $80 to $90 billion a year on credit card transactions.
“They could put it into the cost of operating business but the result of that is they may raise the price on everybody,” Barran explains.
The owner of the Panini Grill says he was one of the first Staten Island restaurants to impose the fee last summer. He acknowledges it might turn off a customer here or there, but that the savings is just too great to ignore. He says the business is saving $3,200 a month.