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City Hall proposal would require most businesses to accept cash

People who refuse to carry a credit card should get help from a bill now under  consideration by the Board of Aldermen.

The bill, introduced Thursday by 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, says that except for a few exceptions, retail businesses must accept legal tender.

“They have to always accept cash. They can accept everything else, too,” Murphy said.

The bill says that businesses that sell consumer goods or retail services cannot refuse to accept cash as payment, post signs that cash payments aren’t accepted or charge a higher price to consumers for cash. It stipulates that “retail” means all transactions conducted in person.

The bill excludes telephone, mail or online transactions, parking lots and parking garages, transactions at wholesale membership clubs that sell consumer goods and services and transactions at wholesale membership stores that require payment through an affiliated mobile device application. It also excludes transactions for the rental of consumer goods, services or accommodations for which a customer must post collateral or security.

Pizza delivery businesses that deliver after a certain time at night may be excluded, Murphy said.

Murphy said she hadn’t heard of anything like that happening in St. Louis but said it was happening elsewhere. “It’s as a preemptive measure, so we don’t have to deal with it later. That’s where I come from,” she said.

In some ways, what Murphy is seeking is already part of federal law. In practice, though, a business can do what it wants.

According to the Federal Reserve’s website, coins and currency, “all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor.”

However, the website said, “There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.”

 

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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