Some merchants have identified creative ways to appeal to their customers to help keep card transactions fees low. If you have ever been to the Friendly Toast in Cambridge, MA for brunch you have probably noticed their sign encouraging customers to pay with cash.
Melissa Jasper, co-founder, was worried about trying this for months before it was actually done. “I didn’t want customers to feel inconvenienced,” she said. “Publishing the amount of money we spend was an easy decision. I thought that it would make people more sympathetic. The reaction to the policy was overwhelmingly positive.
According to their wait staff, a few customers found that publishing the actual expense — even if it does not include the exact fee (it conveys a general ideal of the cost associated with card processing) — was in bad taste. However, for the most part “people were shocked to know that merchants are charged at all. Knowing how much, made them even more willing to use the ATM,” Jasper noted.
To further ensure a happy transition with her customers, Jasper was adamant about no ATM fees. “The company that sold me the ATM argued with me for quite a while about this, thinking we were crazy not to. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of making money off of the customers I was inconveniencing,” Melissa added.
Many customers use the ATM machine to get more cash than they need to spend at the Friendly Toast and according to Melissa, stocking the machine isn’t difficult or time consuming. “We have to put about $10,000 in each week to keep it stocked, which has only made about a 20% dent in our overall credit card usage, but saving $12,000 a year or so in fees is a start”.
This month, the Friendly Toast is going to begin asking people to use cash for all charges below $40, unless the ATM machine is not working. They believe this new approach will be well accepted, but are ready to withdraw the policy if customers are unhappy.
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