In Quebec we use the French term depaneurs, often shortened to dep, but elsewhere they are know as convenience stores. Often mom and pop establishments that specialize in basics such as milk and bread. They also depend on beer and cigarette sales to get by. They are situated in many handy places and, as the name implies, provide consumers with the convenience of being able to pick up items without having to trek to a larger outlet. For this convenience the consumer pays a higher price than they would at the big stores. But recently I have noticed a nasty little ploy that some depaneur owners are employing; making customers pay extra for debit card purchases.
I don’t know if it is legal to charge a fee, usually fifty cents, to pay with a debit card, but it sure doesn’t make any retail sense to make people “pay to pay”. I understand that competition is fierce, in fact there are no less than three depaneurs within a nine-iron’s range of my apartment. Given that they all sell pretty much the same things, and at similar prices, customer service is everything. Asking me to pay to pay isn’t going to make me want to rush back.
Some places limit the gash grab to those clients who purchase only lottery tickets, claiming they make no money from the sale and therefore lose by having to pay the fee charged by the debit giant Interac. The Loto-Quebec machines are allegedly just a service offered by the depaneur, and used to pull people in, although they do stand to make a bonus for winning tickets sold. To charge an additional fee for Loto-Quebec tickets is in clear violation of the Loto-Quebec Retailers Agreement which states that it is forbidden to sell lottery tickets at a price other than that printed on said ticket. How then did my $10 chance at retirement from a big 6/49 win come to cost $10.50?
If these store owners want customers to pay a fee to offset the debit card charges they must pay, what’s next? A fee of a dollar per purchase to cover wear and tear on the cash register? A few bucks per case of beer for the electricity?
The fact is that the debit card charges levied by Interac and others could easily be hidden in product prices, but of course that doesn’t work with lottery tickets. Asking people to pay to pay is downright annoying.