Can we talk about credit card fees and how so many restaurants are making their servers pay them? For those of you not in the know, every time a customer uses a credit card, there is a fee attached to the transaction that the business is responsible for. The fees vary from card to card. American Express has the highest fee which is why so many small businesses don’t accept that card. For decades, the fee was an assumed cost to the business, but things are changing. In more and more restaurants, it is becoming common for the business to pass those fees onto the server. To that I say:
Why the hell is this legal? It doesn’t happen in any other business. If I use my credit card to buy some new, ugly-ass work shoes at Payless, we all know that the person at the cash register isn’t going to pay the credit card processing fee, Payless will. So why has it become acceptable that servers are responsible for that cost? It’s straight up bullshit and yet another way the restaurant industry takes advantage of us servers. Is it not enough that most of us don’t get overtime or holiday pay? Aren’t we screwed enough when we work eight hours straight and the only break we get is if we ask someone to watch our section so we can sneak into the bathroom for five minutes? And it’s shitty enough that most of us are denied health care because our employers won’t give us enough hours to make us eligible for it. But we have to pay the restaurant for the luxury of letting their customers pay with credit cards? Bullshit.
This doesn’t happen to all servers, but to a lot of them. Every week, I get at least two or three messages from someone asking me if it’s legal and I always have to give them the sad news that it is. The fee is probably about 3% of just the tip, but that adds up. If you make $400 in credit card tips each week, that ends up being $48 a month. Until the restaurant is going to let us tell the customer we’d prefer cash tips, we shouldn’t have to pay the fee. Any restaurant that makes their servers pay every time a customer uses a credit card is carelessly tossing one more straw onto the proverbial camel’s back and sooner or later that back is going to break like a rickety tray stand with too many dishes on it. How can we make change? Who do we know that is willing to stand up for the rights of those of us in the restaurant industry?
Well, my first thought was me, but I don’t have any connections with lawmakers and let’s be honest, I’m pretty immature and what lawmaker is going to want to talk to someone who smells like cheap tequila and is wearing a t-shirt that says “Internet Troll Prick” on it? And then I thought about Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Their website states:
The mission of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is to ensure that all people who work in restaurants can achieve financial independence and improve their quality of life.
Well, I know a lot of servers who might have a better chance at financial independence if they weren’t paying the credit card processing fees for the places they work, so maybe ROCUnited can help. If you are paying the fees on credit cards, or if you just think that it shouldn’t be the server’s responsibility, maybe send them an email and see if this is a cause they are willing to get behind? It certainly can’t hurt and I’m sure they’d love to hear from servers from all over the country.
Click here if you want to send them an email. (Just remember, we are asking them for help. They are on our side.)
It just seems completely unfair and so out of the question that any server would be responsible for that cost, yet here we are. So many of us see that deduction each week on our already ridiculously low paycheck. It’s not right and I don’t like it. Do you?