Thursday, 05 July 2007, 9:30:12 EDT

I'm fed up with stores insisting on a minimum purchase amount. This morning I was told I couldn't buy a Tropicana juice and a Little Debbie snack because the price total was under $3.00. Evidently, the store I was at will not accept MasterCard, unless it is a debit card, for sales under $3.00. I told the cashier that he can't charge a minimum amount, it is against the merchant rules, and he said "I know. I'm just going by store policy." I simply put up my wallet and walked out.

No more! Now, I will hand them a second card. If I am trying to pay with a Visa card, the card I will hand them says "Page ten of the Visa merchant rules states: "Always honor valid Visa cards, in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts is a violation." If you refuse to make the sale, I will write a letter to Visa informing them of the violation." If I am trying to pay with a MasterCard card, the card I will hand them says "MasterCard merchant rule 9.12.3: "Maximum/Minimum transaction amount prohibited. A merchant must not require, or post signs indicating that it requires, a minimum transaction amount to accept a valid MasterCard card." If you refuse to make the sale, I will write a letter to MasterCard informing them of the violation."

I know that it is a proprietor's right to refuse business with anyone they choose. But if they are going to refuse my business because of the way I want to pay, and because of the amount I owe, I will not let it slide. It is not my problem if they have made a bad deal with whatever agency they have signed up with to handle credit card transactions. If they are not aware of the merchant rules established by the credit card companies, I will be educating them. If they are aware, then they will have to live up to them or face whatever penalties may be imposed when I complain.

If you would like a copy of these cards I am making them available in a PDF Merchant Rules Cards. I made the cards the same size as a credit card minus one millimeter on each side. There is an outline provided to make cutting easy. Simply cut along the outline and laminate each card. If you leave about a millimeter of laminate along each side of the card, they should last a while and will easily fit in a wallet. Each card carries the respective card logo to make them easy to differentiate. I did not make one for Discover because I do not have a Discover card. I am also not sure they have a rule like MasterCard and Visa.

MasterCard has a webform you can use to report violations. You can find it at Visa, as per their FAQ, requires that you report the violation to the bank that issues your card.