Monday, August 01, 2005

Miani's should be called Lucifer's

This weekend I realized that every time we go to Miani's for drinks, we not only pay a $3 cover but if you pay with credit card you also pay a "credit card surcharge" of something like $1.82.

This, of course, hurts the most if you don't open a tab. However, otherwise it's equivalent to increasing your effective tip substantially or increasing the cover charge to $4.82.

Now, Miani's has fairly cheap drinks, and that's what justifies their $3 cover (covers on Columbus bars are fairly rare). There are other bars that have $5 covers, and so Miani's likes to feel special for having their "low" $3 cover, but with this credit card surcharge, you really may be better going to other bars.

I tried to explain to a friend how I thought this was pretty crappy. Miani's was taking advantage of drunk people who aren't looking at the total at the bottom of their credit card slip. As expected, he didn't know this was going on. However, what I didn't expect is that he was going to start defending Miani's. He argued that this wasn't crap because the drinks were cheap. He thought that I was saying that due to this $1.82 charge, no one should go there anymore. I wasn't suggesting any such black and white solution. I was just suggesting this is crap, and if there was another bar that had cheap drinks and a $3 cover, then maybe it would take a lot of business from Miani's if people actually realized this was going on.

I really would be okay if this wasn't a credit card surcharge but rather a "cheap drink surcharge." I'd be okay if Miani's had a $4 cover for everybody rather than a (at least) $4.82 cover just for credit card users. Miani's probably argues that other bars charge everyone much more for drinks just to support the credit cards, so they just charge the credit card users to recover that cost, but I don't buy that.

Am I wrong for thinking this is crap? And is my friend an ass for thinking that I was suggesting we should boycott and picket outside of Miani's?


grrrbear said...

I've seen a lot of this lately and it seems to be catching on. Retailers (including bars )*hate* credit cards because the card company charges the retailer a fee for the "convenience" of processing the transaction. This fee ranges from about 1-2%, but it's always been cut straight from the profit margin of the retailer (not the customer). Lately, I've seen lots of these "fees" being tacked on (or alternatively, the retailer won't let you use a CC unless it's for over a certain amount. Either way, people seem to be okay with paying all this crap and they keep forking over the card. Best way not to pay it = use cash. I miss getting frequent flier miles for everthing...

Anonymous said...

A deli/pastry place at my school used to have the policy that you had to have a $5 minimum if you were using a credit card. I went in one day and noticed that the sign was down and commented on how happy I was. The sales girl replied, "We found out it was illegal." I haven't heard anything about this since. I'm not even sure if she was right, or was just told that. Just thought I'd throw it out there.

Erin said...

I have also heard that it is illegal to refuse cc transactions under a certain amount, and I wonder about the cc surcharge. I don't think you can do that.

I read something a few weeks ago about a law suit filed by a group of major grocery store chains (including Kroger's) against Visa, claiming that their fees were too high. It noted that because of these fees Kroger was forced to up the prices of groceries to cover the transactions, which is particularly unfair to people who pay cash. This could be a problem with visa or kroger or both, but at least Miani's isn't following that path--you still get the cash discount.