In Florida, it is legally allowed to offer a discount for cash, but not allowed to charge a surcharge for credit card use.  Is this 2 sides of the same coin?

That’s a question that Pam Bondi has put before the US Supreme court, after having gone through the Florida Court system.

Four businesses in Florida that have been served with cease and desist orders for credit card surcharges have fought this in the Florida Courts..

The businesses ae Dana’s Railroad Supply in Spring Hill, TM Jewelry LLC in Key West, Tallahassee Discount Furniture in Tallahassee and Cook’s Sportland in Venice.

Whether the suit is heard or not rests on 2 arguments.   Bondi is presenting this as a First Amendment “Freedom of Speech” issue.The issue that may keep the case from being hear is that the First Amendment specifically does not involve itself with matters of commerce.

“This [Supreme] Court’s intervention is necessary to correct the 11th Circuit’s contravention of a well-established axiom of First Amendment law: Regulations of economic conduct do not implicate the First Amendment,”

Is that in allowing a discount for cash, but not a surcharge for credit, is getting in the way of how one speaks.  They are essentially the same thing, Two sides of the same coin.

Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote that the law is an issue of free speech, and not of commerce.

“Tautologically speaking, surcharges and discounts are nothing more than two sides of the same coin; a surcharge is simply a ‘negative’ discount, and a discount is a ‘negative’ surcharge,” Tjoflat wrote. “As a result, a merchant who offers the same product at two prices—a lower price for customers paying cash and a higher price for those using credit cards—is allowed to offer a discount for cash while a simple slip of the tongue calling the same price difference a surcharge runs the risk of being fined and imprisoned.”

What’s your opinion?  Will this positively or negatively impact the credit card industry in Florida – or is there no difference?

We’d love to hear from you.

As one of the oldest and largest attorney firms dedicated to debt collection, all matters related to the credit card industry (one of the major industries that we work for) impact our practice and our clients.  We will continue to follow this case.

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