Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why I am boycotting Lee's Donuts, Alameda

I went to Lee's Donuts in Alameda, California to pick up five doughnuts today and I didn't have much cash on me, so I opted to use my credit card. I didn't think they would give me a hard time about it since my transaction was over $5.00. (It's not like I was buying one $0.50 doughnut with my credit card, but you are still entitled to do that if you wanted!) The man said that there was a surcharge of $0.50 for using a credit card! I could not believe it. That is a crazy surcharge in a doughnut shop, where some doughnuts cost $0.50! I am tired of businesses thinking they can impose a surcharge for using a credit card, regardless of what signs are posted! I don't think the owner realized that I actually knew my rights as a credit card holder and so I told them that they are in breach of contract with the credit card companies by imposing a surcharge to credit card transactions. Merchants are NOT allowed to impose a surcharge for credit card transactions, which is outlined in the contractual agreement they sign when credit card companies agree to let the merchant use the credit card machines in their businesses. However, most people do not know this fact about credit card agreements with merchants and they end up paying whatever surcharge is imposed, no questions asked. Since I knew my rights, I spoke up and all they could say was, "Then don't buy the doughnuts." I managed to pull five one dollar bills out and scrounged up twenty-two cents, but I don't usually carry much cash on me, which is why I rely on my credit card. That transaction did not sit well with me, especially given the merchant's attitude towards me. So, I called them when I got home to explain again that they cannot keep imposing a surcharge because that is a violation of their terms and conditions with the credit card companies. The owner, an Asian lady, started yelling at me! She said she didn't care who I reported this to because she has "millions of customers and does not need this bull sh*t" and hung up on me. It was unreal. She is a nice person in the store and I am sure most people think she's a sweet Asian lady, but if you try to confront her with how she is violating credit card terms by imposing a surcharge, she will go off on you! I could not believe she swore at me and hung up! Is that really how you treat a customer?  I told her I would never go there again and she said she didn't care. Amazing! Where did customer service go? How cocky can business owners be? It is baffling. She doesn't care that she lost a loyal customer? There are tons of other doughnut shops around, I do not need to give her my business and yet, she doesn't even care? That speaks volumes. 
In any case, since I didn't get anywhere with her, I reported her to my credit card company and explained her violation. I also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau about her treatment of customers and the violation of the credit card terms and conditions. I am no longer a patron of Lee's Donuts of Alameda and I challenge any of you to question the owner about her sign that states a $0.50 surcharge will be added to credit card transactions. She will probably turn into the same defensive woman that came out today. She must think that no one knows what rights exist for credit card holders! She better read her contracts with them again because she cannot get away with this. I know a lot merchants do this, but they are doing it in VIOLATION of the terms and conditions that they signed with the credit card companies. They just think customers are too dumb to know the difference and too passive to do anything about it. Well, I say SPEAK UP and let them know you know your rights!! 
I am boycotting Lee's Donuts of Alameda until the owner abolishes that surcharge practice. Do NOT go to Lee's Donuts:
660 Central Ave
Ste B

(between Mckay Ave & Webster St)
AlamedaCA 94501
(510) 521-8019

If you do go there, try using your credit card and see what they say. If you refuse to pay the surcharge, I bet they will say, "I don't care, then don't buy the doughnuts." 

I am not okay with giving my business to a place that treats its customers this way. Having the owner yell at me and use profanity and hang up on me is not what I call good customer service. I will not be going to Lee's Donuts again.

Most people do not realize they have rights as credit card holders. Credit card companies want their customers to have the freedom and flexibility to use their credit cards on any transaction amount without having to pay a surcharge or make a minimum purchase amount to use the credit card. Regardless of any signs the merchants post in their stores, they are NOT allowed to impose a surcharge for credit card transactions and they are NOT allowed to impose a minimum purchase amount to use a credit card. If you have experienced this, I urge you to report those merchants. The more people who speak up, the better. To avoid any confusion about your credit card rights, here is an excerpt from the Mastercard website: 
Q: A merchant required me to make a minimum purchase when I used my MasterCard card
A: A merchant is not permitted to require a MasterCard cardholder to pay a minimum amount in connection with a MasterCard card transaction.If you believe that a merchant inappropriately has requested a minimum charge or you would like to report an inappropriate charge you may report this by clicking the following URL and completing a brief online form Report a merchant violation

Q: A merchant wanted to charge a surcharge or fee to use my MasterCard card.
A: A merchant is not permitted to require a MasterCard cardholder to pay a surcharge, any part of a merchant discount, or any contemporaneous finance charge in connection with a MasterCard card transaction. However, a merchant may provide a discount to its customers for cash payments provided that it is clearly posted. In certain instances a merchant may charge a convenience fee. If you are not certain whether you have been charged appropriately, or you would like to report a questionable charge, you may click the following URL and completing a brief online form
Report a merchant violation

If you have a problem with a merchant, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
How to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau