My love-hate relationship with cashless companies
How retailers are working for and against making a profit
I hate my new printer. I should've been more suspicious when I got it at such a startlingly low rate from the well-known brand. Something should've told me to read the reviews a little closer. It took me less than a month to realize why it was so cheap. The amount of money I spend on ink cartridges has outspent the amount of money I would've paid for a far more expensive printer like my last one (salute to Brothers). My Brothers ink cartridges used to last for at least two or three months. These? I've purchased four ink cartridges in the past month.
To be fair, I'm printing far more than I usually print due to an upcoming trial. But I also had my last printer for at least six or seven years, and I know I would've never paid this much for ink cartridges even then. I ran out of ink mid-print, and I started taking advantage of local libraries' "10 free pages" print promo. The problem is I have at least 40 more pages to print while I wait on my next ink cartridge in the mail. And the library will ONLY allow you to pay in cash if you want to print more than the 10 "free" pages per day. I never carry cash. The library won't let you pay via credit or debit card. This is one of many reasons I have a love-hate relationship with cashless companies, and it’s been this way for years.
When I was an Election Judge, I would often schedule Via ride-sharing services to take me to and from downtown Chicago. One time, I had a $20 credit after getting two new passengers to sign up, so my ride was “free.” And my tip to the driver was paid by debit card.
I stopped in Argo Tea after I got out of the Via and smiled. I completely forgot that I had a $10 credit on my account from LoyalTea points. Smartphone pay. Cha ching. Chocolate mint tea and Strawberry Banana Parfait for me — with $2 left!
On my way home after four hours of training, I’d already pre-loaded my Ventra card to jump on an el. In that entire day of bouncing from location to location, I don’t believe I touched my wallet in my purse other than to find pens. A wallet for me is just a credit card holder. Rarely if ever is there any paper money inside or anything jingling. But I am not every store’s customer base.
The cashless ban in the retail industry
In mid-January 2020, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was expected to sign a bill to ban cashless businesses. San Francisco and Philadelphia had already forced brick-and-mortar stores to do the same, according to CNN. American restaurants and retail stores would face a $1,000 to $1,500 fine for not accepting American bills and coins.
You would expect me to hate this law, right? Surprisingly, I don’t. I understand the sentiment — even as someone who clearly lives a cashless lifestyle — primarily because cashless stores too often throw the baby out with the bath water. Here’s why.