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MailTribune.com
  • 'We don't do that here'

    Local merchants won't fall in line with 'checkout fee' charge
  • Although a court settlement now allows merchants in most states, including Oregon, to charge shoppers a "checkout fee" of up to 4 percent on swiped credit cards, many Rogue Valley merchants are saying they won't do it.
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  • Although a court settlement now allows merchants in most states, including Oregon, to charge shoppers a "checkout fee" of up to 4 percent on swiped credit cards, many Rogue Valley merchants are saying they won't do it.
    "We're not going to do it, and I don't know anyone who is," said Steve Olsrud, vice president of Sherm's Thunderbird and Food 4 Less in Medford.
    Steve Reed, owner of Shop'n Kart in Ashland, called the change "ridiculous. ... What merchant would do that?"
    As of Sunday, it became legal in 40 states for merchants to add a surcharge to Visa and MasterCard "swipes," but only enough to cover their processing costs. If they add such fees, they must post a sign on the door or at the checkout.
    Visa and MasterCard, which previously prohibited merchants from charging such fees, agreed to allow them as part of an antitrust suit brought by retailers.
    Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Ashland pays about 3.5 percent in fees per Visa or MasterCard transaction but will not pass these costs along to shoppers, said owner Renee Hallesy.
    "People would be turned off by it," Hallesy said. "It would be viewed as nickel-and-diming, and we don't do that here.
    "No merchants are adding the fee, but all it takes is for one merchant to say, 'We're charging the fee and we don't care what you think.' Then other merchants will say, 'If they can do it, we're going to.'"
    Nationally, Walmart, Target, Macy's, Gap, JCPenney and others said they won't add the fees, according to CNNMoney.
    The surcharge is banned in 10 states, including California and New York.
    The change is part of a $72 billion settlement last July between Visa, MasterCard, many retailers and several banks. Merchants still are not allowed to add surcharges on debit-card transactions.
    Hal Koerner, owner of Rogue Valley Runners, said he wants to "cater to the needs" of consumers by not charging the fees, although the change reminds consumers how much retailers have to pay for the convenience of swiping credit cards.
    The Ashland Food Cooperative has "absolutely no plans to charge anyone for using credit cards here, and I don't know why any merchant would," said outreach director Annie Hoy.
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