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Businesses passing on card fees to customers

If you have eaten out in Shafter recently, you may have noticed that there was an extra charge on your bill if you paid with a credit or debit card

For example, a sign states that customers can take advantage of a 3.5% discount if you pay for your purchase with cash at the Generals’ Headquarters on Lerdo Highway. This is another way of saying that you will be charged an extra 3.5% on your bill if you choose to use a debit or credit card. This has been a growing custom at local eateries in the past couple of months.

A Tony’s Firehouse employee said that the charge is a result of the increase in fees charged them by credit card companies. The businesses are passing this cost on to the customer.

This is not the case for all businesses in Kern County. There is no law or particular practice that is in place. Each business is choosing to impose this extra fee on their own.

When contacted, Mayor Cathy Prout said, “The only answer I have at this time is restaurants and other establishments are passing their costs on to you and me.”

This sentiment is the one that is most common throughout the county. A rough survey found that only about a quarter of the businesses in town and the surrounding area are imposing this fee for customers who use cards to pay for their purchases.

This practice is made possible because of a law that has been overturned in California. Until this year, there were 10 states in the nation that prohibited credit fees to be imposed on transactions. California was among the states, along with Florida, Kansas, Maine, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. A higher court ruled that the ban on surcharges in California was unconstitutional, and the ban was lifted.

According to the merchants, there is a discount for using cash, instead of seeing it as a charge for using a debit or credit card. Either way, the change is not sitting well with consumers.

I won’t be going back to businesses that are going to charge me a different price if I use a card instead of cash. Doesn’t matter if you call it a discount or not, it isn’t right,” said James Rongold, who was leaving the Generals Headquarters. “I wont be back again if something doesn’t change.”

We could not find any businesses in Wasco that have imposed this extra charge, or offering customers a discount for cash purchases, with a number of the retailers not knowing anything about the growing practice.


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