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Riverside Exxon Complaint - As A Merchant You Either Accept Credit Cards Or You Don't

Review by Robert.Whetsel on 2008-09-13
FREDERICK -- I tried to purchase a soda and was told that Riverside Exxon had a 3.00 minimum for me to use my credit card. I explained to the clerk that I was filling up on the pump outside and was well above the 3.00. I was told, “that doesn't matter the minimum was per transaction”.

I immediately stopped the pump and left this poor excuse of a gas station; I have a F-10 that holds 22gallons and I was on empty when I started. I stopped the pump at about ½ full, this is the last dollar Exxon will ever get from me. This 1.50 soda cost them about 40.00 more dollars that was needed to fill my tank.
Comments:19 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-01-28
Posted by grandma is mad on 2008-09-13:
I try to stay away from that gas station whenever possible - they are one of the most expensive in Frederick! When I am forced to use them (only when I'm on empty) I fill up no more then $2.00 and then head to right down the street to Sheetz!
Posted by CUFlipSide on 2008-09-13:
The station has to pay for that transaction, whether it's $3 or $300. As long as the policy is posted, I don't see it as unfair.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-09-13:
I thought I saw a post here on my3cents that stated transaction minimums were not allowed per the agreement with the merchant agreement with the bank or maybe even against the law, but I cannot remember for sure.

Merchants are charged a fee per transaction when credit cards are used which is how they justify the minimum transaction amount. I've noticed that more service stations (and even some retailers) are doing this. I personally think the minimum is justified if they have to pay the fee to the bank...but thats just my opinion. At least they arent making the price of sodas higher for everyone else just to make up for those that dont pay the fee.

As a suggestion if you feel that strongly against the policy, alot of gas stations are franchises. Send a letter or email to Exxon corporate and ask them if they know that this particular station has a mininum trasaction amount for credit cards. They may not know it and they may make this station stop that policy.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-09-13:
I buy sodas from machines out front - you don't have to pay tax that way.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-09-13:
John, many retailers set a min trans fee that has nothing to do with anything other than it's their own rule. On a $3 transaction the station may be paying 2.5% plus a transaction fee of about $ .25 cents. Plus you have the human factor of the bookkeeping on the charge. So on a $3 sale it could cost them .75 cents to $1.00.

I don't blame them for setting a minimum amount but in this case they were making a decent sale out at the pump that should have made the rules bend a little.

Robert, sometimes when I don't have cash I go inside and give the cashier my card. Then when I'm done pumping gas I add what I want to the sale. That makes it all one transaction for the merchant.

Debit cards work different and a merchant may ask for an extra fee for using a debit card which is legal in California. Arco Gas Stations for years have not taken credit cards but will take a debit card but they add a .50 cent fee for using your debit card. Debit cards run thru the merchant processing system more like a check drawn on a checking account.
Posted by Slimjim on 2008-09-13:
Most merchant accounts charge a transaction fee. Therefor, retailers will sometimes set minimums to cover the costs. There is no rule against it. We own a craft store which my wife runs and she started a minimum after getting tired of people using their card for 83 cent purchases. If you don't, a .25-.35 cent transaction fee, on top of the percentage cut, eats up the entire profit. Here's another news flash, most stations only make about a dime a gallon profit on gas. The roughly $2.55 profit they lost on you for not getting the soda or finishing the fill up is probably livable to them.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-09-13:
Ahh, good info to know Super and Slim. I learned something about both credit and debit cards. Thank you. :)
Posted by *Brenda* on 2008-09-13:
Here's a link to report merchant violations to Mastercard.
http://www.mastercard.com/us/personal/en/contactus/merchantviolations.html

I believe Visa you actually have to call to report them. Not sure about Discover or AMEX.
Posted by NickL11354 on 2008-09-13:
It doesn't matter whether or not there is a sign or whatever. The fact is that under the merchant agreement with Visa & Mastercard a merchant cannot set a minimum transaction. They have to pay for it, so what?? either you accept credit cards or you don't. This is 2008, most people use credit or debit cards instead of carrying cash.

If I get that $3.00 or $5.00 minimum, I say either you accept the card or I will take my business elsewhere
Posted by NickL11354 on 2008-09-13:
Gas stations make good profits from the items sold in the convenience stores and repairs. I don't see many gas stations boarded up or going out of business. This has always been the case, not something new.

If enough people report the merchant to Visa, Mastercard & American Express their merchant agreement gets canceled, then they can't accept credit cards at all.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-09-13:
NickL11354, agreed. But if they set a local rule like that what choice do we have but to go someplace else? Like Brenda says you can make an issue out of it but they will probably keep doing it anyway.
Posted by Slimjim on 2008-09-13:
Like I said, we're in business to make money. If a sale costs us money becuase of THEIR fees, then I'm going to set my protocol to aviod being had. It's a pretty simple concept and if a customer of ours doesn't like it, then they were out to cost me money and I say ciao and don't let the door hit you.
Posted by *Brenda* on 2008-09-13:
But Slim, what does your merchant agreement with the credit card company(ies) say? Are you really allowed to do that or are you breaching their contract?
Posted by Slimjim on 2008-09-13:
We have no provision that states we can't have a minimum as far as I know (or care). We can't charge more for taking a card over regular price is the big rule with these, and excessive charge backs tend to create problems for retailers also.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2008-09-13:
Alot of stores here have a minimum on credit cards. Mostly those convienent type stores. One of the stores here, had a sign with a $10.00 minimum to use your credit card.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2008-09-13:
The fee they have to pay is the reason why gas stations are encouraging people to use cash instead of credit at the pumps. They are encouraging them by selling gas for a lower price if you pay with cash, than if you paid with a credit card. One station gives cash customers a .25 per gallon discount.
Posted by yoke on 2008-09-13:
The gas stations around here state there is a $5.00 minimum for cc purchases.
Posted by SilverWngs71 on 2008-09-14:
The Shell station next door, charges $0.55 for debit card transactions but nothing for credit card purchases yet. We have an ARCO fuel company that charges $0.25 for any debit/credit card purchases. So I use my debit card Visa and charge to credit at shell and don't use ARCO. I go to Safeway Grocery or Costco.
Posted by Robert.Whetsel on 2009-01-28:
I understand the costs transaction fees. I own a business and fully get the concept; I pay those fees myself. However as a merchant you can not impose a minimum if you agree to accept the credit card. It is in your fine print or the merchant agreement you signed.

From Dollar Minimums and Maximums section: Always honor valid Visa cards in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts in order to accept a Visa card transaction is a violation of the Visa rules.

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