Spot of bother in Bean Town

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Spot of bother in Bean Town

The P and D machines in Boston had their credit card facility turned off last week. Read about it here.

Seems the credit card companies have this little rule that the merchant (city) cannot force credit card users to have a minimum purchase.  I have run into this before — and some merchants do it. They place a little sign next to the register and it simply says that the person must purchase a minimum amount. Fine — but that does breech the deal the merchants have with Visa and MC. Of course the little onesy twosy merchants fall below the Visa radar. The city of Boston does not.

The problem Boston has is that if the parker puts say 25 cents on their card, the chances are that the cost of the transaction might be more than the amount collected. There are of course, ways around this and companies that deal with it on a regular basis (by combining charges, etc) however the solution in Massachusetts was to simply stop taking credit cards.

HUH — that sure solves the problem. Their numbers were way up on the streets that were using the P and D machines. A lot probably due to the fact that credit cards were accepted. Now they are trying to find out if they can change the machines so that credit card transactions can be taken below the minimum amount (of course they can) but are "concerned" about whether or not they can convert the machines.

HUH (part deux) Its inconceivable to me that the software change required on 23 machines would break the city of Boston, particularly when the vendor (read the story to find out who it is) has a potential of 950 more machines to sell the city.

Oh, well. Something for the rest of you to consider when going to credit cards. My solution — raise the onstreet rates so that the first increment is above whatever number you are looking for in the credit card world and get on with it. The onstreet rates are probably under priced anyway.

JVH

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John Van Horn

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