Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"A Day Without Credit Cards - A Day With Cash" (commentary:

What would happen if on Friday, November 25th, consumers across America chose cash and checks to shop?

Imagine. It is the busiest shopping day of the year, Friday, November 25th and consumers used just cash and checks to shop. is evaluating a proposal for an exploratory launch of a national campaign next month to draw attention to the bank-owned credit card associations' interchange fees. This idea was suggested by consumers and is independent from our role as lead plaintiffs in the credit card interchange litigation.

The genesis for creating an exploratory survey to determine the viability of this initiative began locally at 30 Minute Photos Etc. We noticed that more of our retail customers began paying with cash and writing checks; most are familiar with our role in the antitrust case. Several people asked if we could expand their individual protests on a larger scale. However, such action would have to come from consumer groups. Personally, we are against boycotts, but think this call to action has some merit.

If implemented, A Day Without Credit Cards - A Day With Cash" will draw extensive attention and engage additional conversation in the mounting battle against credit card interchange fees.

Widespread support from shoppers and consumer groups thoughout the nation would be necessary and the campaign would have to be implemented by consumers, not retailers.

Among the recommendation to us were that debit, ATM and check cards should also not be used on that day. Many merchants are unaware that when they swipe a debit card as a credit card transaction they are charged as if it was a credit card. While the consumer has the funds immediately withdrawn from their account, the retailers can pay upwards of 2.5%, rather than just a flat fee. On a $1,000 transaction, those debit cards can cost a merchant $25.00, rather than just .50 - .75 cents.

In advance of the single busiest shopping day of the year, the initiative would recommend consumers choose another form of payment. Consumers would be sending a blaring signal to Visa and MasterCard in protest against their collusive practices that force retailers to pay whatever rates the banks want to charge.

Ecommerce businesses would be exempt from "A Day Without Credit Cards - A Day With Cash." We do not want to impact or affect any commerce, especially online businesses. Besides they are already entirely obligated to Visa and MasterCard by effectively being forced to accept those cards. Ex: One-hundred percent of all transactions through 30 Minute Photos Etc., the national online boutique photo service is credit card based; so too are most Ecommerce businesses. Whether it is 30 Minute Photos Etc., or giants like Travelocity and, online orders usually require credit card payments.

The objective is to educate, not impair commerce.

As background, the co-editors of have launched a series of previous national grassroots initiatives, including:

o An event that brought 5,000 people to NYC on Veteran's Day - two months after "9/11" to support the airlines, commerce and "The Big Apple."

o A year later, "Fly With Courage" was created to demonstrate that flying on Sept 11, 2002 was safe and necessary to support the airline and travel industry.

o Last Summer, "Support the Games" brought business leaders to Athens to help fill the stands when few tourists wanted to risk attending the Olympics.

o In January of this year, "Operation Photo" raised used-digital cameras which were donated to families across the country through Operation HomeFront, a military family support service. Using photography, the cameras helped bridge the divide and boost morale due to the effects from Americans being deployed abroad. More background info is available on the 30 Minute Photos Etc., "In the News" website

[Ed note: 30 Minute Photos Etc. is owned by the lead plaintiff and class representative in the antitrust litigation against the credit card associations and major banks. The company's founders, Carl Berman and Mitch Goldstone are also co-editors of "The Credit Card Interchange Report:"]

For more info on how you can assist in this exploratory evaluation please contact: