TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) – Four Florida businesses, including a discount furniture store, are part of a lawsuit over whether the companies can charge extra to someone using a credit card. The case could soon be on its way to the US Supreme Court.
Under Florida law, merchants can’t charge you more for using a credit card unless they post two sets of prices: one for cash and one for credit. They can offer you a discount for using cash.
“So, everyone’s paying a higher price for goods for the few who choose to use credit cards,” says Duana Palmer, owner of Tallahassee Discount Furniture.
Tallahassee Discount Furniture is a stone’s throw from the state capitol. It advertises prices well below retail. Dana was told to stop charging more for the use of a credit card or face a fine or jail.
“I had no idea it was illegal. It made sense to me to keep my prices down. So I said this is the price, this is what it costs if you use your credit card,” says the owner.
Duana sued and won. A federal appeals court said her pricing strategy was free speech. But Florida’s Attorney General is now asking the US Supreme Court to step in and uphold the law, arguing customers shouldn’t be “Ambushed” by higher prices at checkout.
“Why should it be a crime? And we’re being honest with them. This is what they are charging us…if you want to use this method of payment, then we have to pass that fee on. Certainly not trying to ambush anybody. My goal is to give the best pricing as possible” says Palmer.
Florida is one of just ten states that don’t allow credit card surcharges. Forty other states do.
The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate because of the ongoing litigation.
We asked if it wouldn’t be easier to just post two prices, one for credit and one for cash. Ms. Palmer responded that it would be time-consuming and only add more overhead for staff to post the prices.