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June 25th, 2009:

An open letter to VISA about unscrupulous merchants

Earlier this week, after a particularly heated exchange with a local merchant about minimum purchase prices, I realized that I was spending on average about 30 minutes a week fighting for the right to use my credit card. So I decided to write VISA and plead with them to take action. Below is a copy of my letter.

Visa U.S.A. Inc.

P.O. Box 194607
San Francisco, California 94119-4607

Dear VISA:

First let me thank you for the great service you provide.

A lot of people like to say horrible things about you and credit card issuing banks these days, but I think you are great. I love my VISA card(s), and I am not afraid to admit it.

VISA is quick, it’s easy, it’s paperless and it’s everywhere I want to be! What’s more, using my VISA card means every purchase is automatically categorized, which makes budgeting with free websites like a breeze. Using my VISA card is so convenient that about a year ago I abandoned cash all together—and I wouldn’t think of going back.

I believe the widespread acceptance of credit cards at no charge to consumers is one of the things that make America great. I value the right to pay for a 99 cent can of coke with a VISA card, and I am willing to defend it.

If I encounter a merchant who tries to enforce a “minimum purchase requirement” to use a credit card, I challenge them. I politely inform them that their contract with VISA prohibits them from charging fees to use a credit card or stipulating a minimum purchase price. The merchant always backs down.

I don’t mind doing my part to protect my right to swipe, but I am concerned that more and more merchants are trying to institute minimum purchase requirements. Everywhere I go these days, from party stores to gas stations to cafés to late night pizza places, merchants are trying to circumvent their VISA contracts—and it hurts me, the consumer.

I am doing my part to fight back and stand up for the rights of VISA users everywhere, but I only have so much time in the day. I cannot keep carrying all of the water for you.

So please VISA, step up your enforcement of credit card minimums and surcharges. If not for yourself, then do it for the loyal VISA users everywhere, and for the American way of life.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

#6. Chargebacks and Credit Cards

€5. Different sized banknotes

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