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Main Street Grill Complaint - Bring Spare Change - Just-in-Case

Review by donndonns on 2011-08-05
CALIFORNIA -- My husband and I spent our day today in beautiful Cambria, California, one of our favorite destinations.

We "attempted" to go to Main Street Grill for lunch around 1:30pm. We had a very unpleasant experience. It seems that Main Street Grill's main objective is making a few extra pennies off of their customers.

The place was packed. My husband went to find a table and I got in line to order. After standing in line for 10-minutes, I got to the register and ordered our food. I asked for ice water and was told "we can't do ice water, but you can get bottled water for 25-cents." Okay, fine, no biggie.

I took out my credit card to pay and was told "cash only, no credit."

What?

"Cash only, but we do have an ATM machine."

Are you kidding me? In 2011, a business does not accept credit? This was very irritating. This is poor customer service and a total lack of respect for my time.

This establishment's concern is NOT customer service and it shows. Where is the signage to inform customers, before they wait in line for 10-minutes, of the cash only policy?

Customers don't have to use the ATM. They can walk away and go elsewhere and we did, but it sure felt like a sneaky, cheesy way to make extra money. It was a Gotcha Moment. How many customers, after waiting in line, opt for the ATM and the extra transaction fees involved, I wonder?

It's not until you get to the register to order, that you can find, IF you look very closely, the 4"x6" beer ad that includes the words "cash only" intermixed with advertising art and Lingo. The only reason I found it was because I was looking for it, after my failed attempt at buying lunch.

Now, I wonder, how much this establishment makes on ATM transactions off the backs of their customers? They must make a percentage for each transaction. And of course, let's not forget the 25-cent bottles of water.

My husband and I were left with a bad taste in our mouth. We travel far and near, and are rarely treated so indifferently.
Comments:22 Replies - Latest reply on 2011-08-05
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-08-05:
Yes, there are places that accept cash only. I'm not sure, but I don't think they make money on ATM transactions.

There is a pizzeria right near my house that has the best pizza, but because they only accept cash, we hardly ever go there. We, too, found out the hard way when they first opened. We were told cash only after ordering and attempting to pay with a credit card. There was a sign by the register, but we didn't notice it.

If a restaurant has an established clientele that doesn't mind the cash only policy, I guess there is no real incentive to change. The pizzeria has a thriving business, and accepting cash only probably makes things a lot easier. It also eliminates the cost of accepting credit cards.

Twenty-five cents is a great price for bottled water. Even if they offered tap water, I'd choose the bottled. But I can understand not wanting to pay the extra money.

Posted by SteveWiginowski on 2011-08-05:
One reason places might only accept cash is because they don't have to pay fees to the credit card processing places. Some of the fees include equipment rental and a percentage of all transactions processed through the machine.

Since they were so busy around 1:30 PM, it sounds like they have quite a large customer base who don't mind their policies. Good for you for not doing business with a place that has policies that you don't like.

Like Venice said, 25 cents for a bottle of water, that sounds like quite a steal for the customers. I don't think their policy shows a lack of customer service, nor is it showing a lack of respect of their customers time.
Posted by Nohandle on 2011-08-05:
This reminds me of a family member sharing an experience of his. He had invited several other couples as his guests one evening for a meal at a highly recommended busy restaurant out of town. The food was as delicious as he had been told, service great and when he excused himself from the table to take care of the bill was shocked to say the least. They only accepted cash or checks. The regulars knew that but he didn't. He didn't have any checks with him, and had to borrow cash from his guests to finish paying the bill. One of those funny now, not then situations for him.
Posted by SteveWiginowski on 2011-08-05:
NoHandle, my wife's friend had a birthday dinner at some crazy restaurant. She told all of her guests that it would be $30 per person, plus drinks.

Before the dinner though, she asked my wife to pick up her birthday cake that she ordered. When my wife went to pick up the cake, they said that she owed $50 for the cake. My wife was surprised that it wasn't paid for already. She paid though, and decided to forgo giving a birthday gift as the cake was now her present.

The restuarant was a bit out there, where the workers would dance and whatnot while serving food and putting on some type of crazy show. It was interesting. Lots of food and drinks were placed on our tables (of about 30 people).

The end of the table I was at, no one drank alcohol, only water. The other side, on the other hand, had quite a bit to drink. Eventually the bill came and people were ready to pay. Most people from our side were ready to put in between $35 and $40 (to include tip or if they got a soda).

Much to our surprise, the birthday girl told us that we were splitting the bill and that it was now going to cost us $80 a person. Apparently, it was so much higher than we were originally told because of how much alcohol was consumed. We really didn't want to put that kind of money down when we were told it'd be so much less, so most of the people put down what they were going to put down, and then left. My wife and I agreed to pay $50 each, even though we didn't drink.

When we heard from the birthday girl a few days later, apparently she and her boyfriend (his friends drank like there was no tomorrow) had $500 that they had to pay because of people paying less than the $80 per person.
Posted by Nohandle on 2011-08-05:
Steve, I think we've changed the topic, but my family member reimbursed everyone first thing the next morning. He was embarrassed beyond word. Again, one of those funny now but not then situations. Feel free to start a topic on how some intentionally take advantage of others. I can probably top anyone's story with some I've seen and experienced.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
I would never use one of those stand alone ATMs. Too risky.
Posted by spiderman2 on 2011-08-05:
In this day and age where is seems no one (but me LOL) carries cash there should be some signage before you get to the register that says "cash only." I had ordered tickets to a show to pick up at the "will call" booth. I was shocked when I got there to find out that it was a cash only transaction. I wondered why no one said that when I ordered the $80 worth of tickets! Luckily, I had enough cash to cover it because the last thing I would have wanted to do was drive around a strange place looking for an ATM. I agree that a 25 cent bottle of water is a bargain.
Posted by MRM on 2011-08-05:
I agree, S Hawking, that standalone ATMs are risky. I glad I have Bank of America as they have ATMs all over the street corners.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
At first you said there was no sign, but then you said there was a sign. So they do let their customers know it's cash only. There's a few places out here that take cash only. I don't mind paying cash, especially if the food is good
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
I know several restaurants that accept cash only. Their business, their right.
Posted by Nohandle on 2011-08-05:
The example I gave earlier up was of a seated restaurant where I expect the notification was mentioned outside the establishment before entering as to the cash/check/CC policy. It would not in blaring letters somewhere. And I expect it was not hidden as to confuse diners. The server presented the bill and the host then might find himself in a somewhat embarrassing situation if he was unaware beforehand.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-08-05:
Some of the nicest places I know are cash-only. Are they rare? Yes. I am an heavy credit card user, but I can appreciate that a business that tries to keep prices as low as it can will not accept them.

A tasteful sign posted early in the line would be smart for this location. At the places I speak of, they have such signs.
Posted by Skye on 2011-08-05:
I also know restaurants that are cash only, now, and don't blame them. Don't they have to pay a merchants fee when they accept credit cards?

They should have a big sign that says, Cash Only when you walk in.

Apparently this place is doing just fine, being packed and all. Sorry you felt it left a bad taste in your mouth.

This review is a good reminder to still carry cash. I still use cash and always keep a cash stash in my wallet, for those just in case moments, or more like just in cash moments.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
At the Costco food court here they only accept cash. And its packed daily.
Posted by Churro on 2011-08-05:
I have a friend who owns a very popular restaurant in nowhere Oklahoma. He refuses to accept credit cards. He does it for political reasons because it's his contention that the CC fees are a globalist's hidden tax on the economy used to bring forth a new world order. I don't know if he's right or wrong but the man makes great ribs so I bring cash. Wadda you gonna do go without?
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
So the gist of the complaint is that the OP was not aware until she had ordered and was preparing to pay that it was a cash only business, and that it would have been nice to know beforehand. Has nothing to do with how many other people were there, maybe they were all regulars and already know the cash only policy. A sign posted at the entry is the appropriate way to inform customers, not a sign at the register that is easily missed.

Posted by Old Timer on 2011-08-05:
The Original Philippe's, Home of the French Dip Sandwich in downtown L.A. established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the "French Dipped Sandwich." Has multiple counter lines 6am to 10pm a day with people wanting a Philippe's French Dip Sandwich. It's crazy how many people go thru there in one day.

And yet they have never taken a credit or debit card. A few years ago they did install an ATM machine for the tourists and others that did not know it was cash at the counter or no French Dip Sandwich for you! The Main Street Grill is in great company.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-08-05:
The grill was likely packed because Cambria is a tourist stop on the way to Hearst Castle. It's also on highway 1, which goes down the California coast, it's a very popular route for tourists and local's from my area (highway 1 south from Monterey to San Simeon, CA) because it's an absolutely beautiful drive. Google highway 1 big sur or carmel and you'll see what I mean. We ate at the Main St Grill several years ago while on a drive down the coast, on a weekday, and the place was packed. The food was good too. I don't remember if there was a "cash only" sign but I'm sure there is one and the OP didn't see it.
I agree, its the business's right to accept cash only. Transaction fee's are a minimum 3% these days.
Posted by madconsumer on 2011-08-05:
some atms do pay percentages to the store or restaurant. they do this to make money.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-08-05:
We never carry cash, so when we go somewhere for the first time, I always look for the Visa/MC sign. If I don't see one then I know there's a possibility that it's cash only and find out before ordering.

I do keep a blank check stashed in my wallet as an alternative, but some places won't accept that either. I wonder if Main Street Grill would have accepted a check.
Posted by GenuineNerd on 2011-08-05:
Some mom-and-pop restaurants (and other businesses) still operate on a cash-only basis, mainly due to the cost of processing credit card transactions, as well as a long-time clientele of cash-paying customers. Accepting CC's could be too costly or ambitious for some establishments.
Posted by olie on 2011-08-05:
In our area, establishments have little MC/Visa/Disc/Amex logos on the doors, telling which credit cards are accepted. If there are no logos, that tells me at least to ask if something is accepted or not.

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