The commercial banks here have slammed the door shut on Barbadian customers hoping for some form of redress against retailers who impose a minimum spend on those wishing to pay for their purchases with debit cards.
Contrary to assurances given recently by Caribbean Integrated Financial Services Inc (CarIFS), the provider of the technological infrastructure that facilitates payments via debit card at points-of-sale locations, the bankers are making it clear that the retailers are free to set their own rules.
In fact, President of the Barbados Banking Association Donna Wellington said the financial institutions would not police the retail establishments that use their machines.
“The banking association will not be policing this matter. They [the retailers] have rented or purchased a machine from us that can be used for their own purposes to collect their own revenue.
“They can choose not to put one [card machine] in their stores. It is not a mandatory thing. There will be no situation in where the commercials banks in Barbados police retailers all across this island to see if they are putting up signs or not. That is not our affair,” Wellington told Barbados TODAY in the wake of widespread condemnation of Rubis petrol station in Kendall Hill after a customer posted a video online in which he complained of being asked to spend at least $20 if he wished to use his card for a transaction.
“I have a receipt for a Rubis car wash, so I gone into the gas station to get a wash for my mum’s car and the lady tell me that I have to spend $20 in order to use my card. Interesting enough a couple weeks ago in the newspaper they say that is not true,” Corey Worrell said in the video, which had over 20 thousand views.
It was the latest in a series of complaints by customers who said the practice was unfair.
Prism Financial Services, the parent company of CarIFS said it had been so inundated with calls that it issued a statement in April warning businesses that its regulations prohibited merchants from directly or indirectly enforcing a minimum spend requirement for point-of-sale purchases.
However, with some businesses refusing to back down, CarIFS spokeswoman Claire Odle told Barbados TODAY last month that those who defied the order would likely be fined by the banks, or have the equipment taken away altogether.
“We did have one bank ask if they should all agree to fine the merchants, but that decision has not been made. However it is up to the banks,” Odle had said.
However, in sheer contradiction to this statement, Wellington insisted it was up to the merchants to decide how the use the machines and there was nothing illegal about the minimum spend requirement.
In fact, she suggested that customers who did not like the condition set by the merchants could pay by cash or cheque.
“We sell the products [card machine], these people have chosen to purchase or rent a machine from us to collect their own revenue and can do as they see fit.
“You can walk with cash in your pocket and pay for its otherwise. If you choose to use the card then there are terms that the persons have decided for using the cards,” she said.