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Yes. Except…

Thursday, 5 August 2010

It’s right there in black, and grey.

This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?

En route to the Puerta Vallarta airport just twenty minutes ahead of 1:00pm, ZaydeGiraffe and BubbeGiraffe received a phone call saying that their 5:30pm flight had been cancelled and that they were now rebooked on a new flight with another airlines. A 1:30pm flight. Why another airlines? It seems that Mexicana Airlines, the third oldest airline in the world, had suddenly declared bankruptcy. Without a moment to grab a bite to eat, Bubbe and Zayde found themselves being whisked onto a flight by another carrier.

Unlike Mexicana, which provided free drinks and a meal, this airline had no meal planned for the flight. One could, however, find “a variety of sweet and savory snacks available for purchase.” As long as one had a credit card.

That’s right. This airlines operates “cashless cabins systemwide,” accepting only major credit and debit cards.

I imagine that the overwhelming majority would think nothing of this and hand the plastic right over to the flight attendants. But that is not how we roll in this family. Because our family is comprised of people who have actually read the currency and have a very basic understanding of the United States Coinage Act of 1965. The relevant section reads:

United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

ZaydeGiraffe wasn’t interested in unloading his pesos; he wanted to pay with US dollar bills.

I won’t speculate what ZaydeGiraffe said as he made a selection and paid with his credit card. It would not be uncharacteristic, however, for someone from our family to point out to the poor, innocent flight attendant that this was in violation of Federal Law.

I’m just saying…

Well. It so happens that we are not the first to wonder about this as I found this very question listed on the FAQ page of the U.S. Treasury website, with the following answer:

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.

A glaring loophole, don’t you think?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 6 August 2010 7:59 am

    You know I couldn’t agree in principle more with what you are saying, however from a convenience (unfortunate convenience) to security issues many private businesses are leaning towards a no cash policy. The law is clear in this case, but the law as we know doesn’t always prove to be whats best for us as individuals or consumers. I understand why they do this and in this case live with it and in some cases probably perpetuate it as we (me and mine) do not carry much cash at all (even when we have it 😉 ). My dad was just like Zadye as he would ensure he pointed these issues in protest whilst proceeding none-the-less. On another note, the airlines certainly are taking liberties with the old adage “Nickel & Dime”…

    What happened to customer service and do unto others…

    Hopefully I will see you next week.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 8 August 2010 10:25 am

      I agree that the current approach has taken much of the pleasure away from the enter enterprise.

      See you tomorrow!

  2. Friday, 6 August 2010 1:43 pm

    i’ll tell you what, i’m a firm believer in the “you learn something everyday” rule of thumb. and when i visit your site, i *always* know that’s true! excellent point and i’m lovin’ imagining zaydie’s words for the flight attendant. although i do, indeed, feel slightly bad for the flight attendant! 🙂

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 8 August 2010 10:29 am

      Oh no, have no fear. Zayde is a gentleman and even when he chooses to correct misinformation, it is always done with gentle words and a kind tone.

  3. Rebgiraffe permalink
    Friday, 6 August 2010 3:24 pm

    I am the Zayde in question. I actually did not raise an issue with the flight attendant. While I disagree with this air carrier’s policy, I realize that the attendant didn’t make the policy. She was doing her job to the best of her ability. I do try to be a pleasant customer.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 6 August 2010 3:28 pm

      Did not mean to imply that you were anything other than a “pleasant customer.” Just wondered (aloud) whether you had kindly mentioned, as you handed over the card, about legal tender.

  4. LILI Dubrow permalink
    Saturday, 7 August 2010 10:27 am

    I too just encountered this on my flight yesterday with Frontier Airlines as I carried a certain amount of cash so that I didn’t ring up additional interest charges. What with paying $40 for the first bag of luggage per person. The oil crisis is not my fault but I’m paying dearly for it.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 8 August 2010 10:30 am

      The luggage thing really irks me too.

  5. Monday, 9 August 2010 9:30 am

    I noticed this awhile ago. Considering the fact that vendors are charged every time a credit card is used, I wondered if it had to do with flight attendants stealing. Probably not, though, since everyone started doing it.

    It bothers me, though, simply because not everyone can get a credit card. What are kids traveling alone supposed to do?

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