UA refusing cash -- legality?

Old Apr 28, 15, 3:35 am
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UA refusing cash -- legality?

In DEN, when I went to check in my bag, the United rep told me they do not accept cash. I had to buy a prepaid credit card, paying $5 extra as a cash machine (which she pointed out to me).

Is this legal? Cash is supposed to be legal tender. Says so right on the notes.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 4:43 am
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A business does not have any obligation to accept anything from you for voluntary purchase of something. Cash is "legal tender" for debts. Debts.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 4:44 am
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Originally Posted by irenem View Post
In DEN, when I went to check in my bag, the United rep told me they do not accept cash. I had to buy a prepaid credit card, paying $5 extra as a cash machine (which she pointed out to me).

Is this legal? Cash is supposed to be legal tender. Says so right on the notes.
Yes
http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm
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Old Apr 28, 15, 4:46 am
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I don't blame UA for this at all - in many cases - especially at outsourced stations - "cash" disappears at an alarming rate... Employee theft is a HUGE problem for any business that accepts cash - so UA was smart to eliminate it. Is it a PITA - you bet sometimes it is...
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Old Apr 28, 15, 5:26 am
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Fedex doesn't accept cash either. I believe technically, business cannot refuse cash to settle a debt after service is rendered. They can refuse to provide service with cash.

Last edited by TerryK; Apr 28, 15 at 7:52 am
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Old Apr 28, 15, 5:55 am
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This happened several years ago at DEN and I was surprised myself. It may have coincided with United going all cashless, but I’m not sure of the timing. I can understand the issues with cash (all cash transactions at the ticket counter were handled by those carriers that travel thru tubes like drive through banks) and probably took quite a bit of extra time with each cash customer.

If (or when) US Airlines starting charging credit card fees (like many EU Airlines) what options will we have then?

Let’s hope the day never comes that the government can force you to use or accept cash....

DEN

Last edited by DEN; Apr 28, 15 at 6:11 am
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Old Apr 28, 15, 6:21 am
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http://consumerist.com/2013/02/25/co...ght-purchases/
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Old Apr 28, 15, 7:00 am
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What defines a private entity in this case? If one has outstanding federal loans, private? Taxpayer supported, subsidies, private? Someone please clarify private? I think if your going to collect federal tax dollars you should probably accept cash for all debts?
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Old Apr 28, 15, 7:40 am
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Originally Posted by ZZYZXROAD View Post
What defines a private entity in this case? If one has outstanding federal loans, private? Taxpayer supported, subsidies, private? Someone please clarify private? I think if your going to collect federal tax dollars you should probably accept cash for all debts?
Far too broad a question. The fact that the price of an air ticket may include certain federal taxes does not make the payment for the ticket a "debt". It's a very narrow term and not open to policy debate.

More and more businesses are going cashless as fewer and fewer people carry cash. At an absolute minimum, places such as AA which do still accept cash at the counter, will divert you to one specific agent who handles cash.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 7:41 am
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UA refusing cash -- legality?

State Department of NY won't accept cash to get your marriage licence! They direct you over the street to buy a money order! (No U.S. checking account..)
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Old Apr 28, 15, 7:50 am
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Well, since there are a few posts here, and no one thought to do this yet, to the OP: Welcome to FT.

No, UA doens't have to accept cash, and they don't. Nor in their cabins. It actually makes sense - the agents primary job is to check people in, etc. Cash handling just makes things more difficult, prone to theft, etc. It's easier just to have an agent swipe a card and be done with it.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 8:17 am
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To give you an exact answer. If they serve you the meal and then charge you, it's technically a debt and they are legally required to take cash. If you pay in advance or at the time you receive the meal, they don't have to take cash.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 8:29 am
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The Fed rule and accompanying guidance make it very clear that payment for "goods and services" are not a debt for purposes of the rule. If you are served a meal and then presented a bill as would occur at a restaurant, that is not a debt and the restaurant is free not to accept cash.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 8:43 am
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i actually view cashless as a good thing after working on the digitalization of retail banks. there's a few reasons when we talk broader than just the immediate time of transaction. businesses can report their information more accurately since card transactions post in real time, whereas cash needs to be tallied up in batch at the end of a flight, end of the day, etc. cash also forces businesses to include a loss buffer. someone mentioned theft, organizations this large who deal with cash often include a 10-15% loss buffer to account for this, they just assume someone's stealing. lastly, it's safer. now in a brick and mortar store, they run the risk of getting held up and robbed at gunpoint. i would say the likelihood of that happening mid-flight or at an airport terminal isn't likely. but remember, when you pay cash, it physically has to be transported somewhere. to a central processing center. a bank. you know all those brinks security armored trucks driving around? that's what they do. and there's a good reason why they're so heavily protected. digital transactions does away with it.

currently it does inconvenience a small proportion of the population, and statistics on mobile and online bank adoption actually show that this group gets smaller every year. imo the benefits at the aggregate level are definitely worth it.
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Old Apr 28, 15, 9:40 am
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Can anyone comment on those cash to debit card conversion machines? I saw the $5 fee. Do the cards ever expire? Is there a monthly fee? Are the cards only good for UA purchases? On the ground and/or in the air? Also know in CA there are laws which prohibit expiration. I was actually thinking it would be smart to load one up for cabin purchases or wifi. It seems like keeping a credit card readily accessible on flights can work against you also. Thank you.
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