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Adrian, it’s easier than opening a bank account.

 

I think once it’s accepted that we’re only talking about people so far off the grid that they can’t even get an over the counter debit card the assertion that Chang/Ladner have a duty to build their business around those people’s convenience access becomes implausible.

 

Why not attack Uber because they can’t get a ride?

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It’s kind of a reverse Marie Antionette. “The people are starving!” “My god, it’s outrageous they can’t get croissants.”

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i don't think you're quite getting the point. it's a hassle if you live most of your life via cash payments - whether you have a bank account or not - as is true for many poor people to have to open a bank account, apply for a credit card, or get a pre-paid debit card just to make a purchase. it is a tax on their time that adds to the cost of being poor.

 

nonetheless, i agree that this doesn't affect a lot of people or is not some grand societal issue. but this doesn't change that, when looking at the decision of the business there is some principle embedded in there. chang decided to open a fast food restaurant that is inaccessible, or at least less accessible, to poor people. just because that doesn't have a broad societal impact, doesn't mean that we can't criticized chang for doing so, especially if you have concerns that the move towards a cashless society is one that will come as a drip, as more businesses unilaterally decide to do this and it becomes a norm at the lower end. 

 

i am not sure that a decision that you think represents a bad principle (cashless fast food restaurant at a modest, but above market, price point) is immune from criticism just because it doesn't have a broad impact (few people who transact primarily in cash are inclined to eat at such a fast food restaurant, therefore what the fast food restaurant is doing is fine).

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Nor does the fact that it was evidently easy for Wilf. or someone he knows, to get a prepaid card. That doesn't mean it's as easy for everyone who tries.

 

And what good is getting the card for free, if one can't use it for free?

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Still puzzled about the hassle factor. Much easier to get ah over the counter debit card than open a bank account or get approved for a debit card.

 

Once we’re agreed that anyone can get one of these cards, the concerns expressed here really affect very few people; homeless and off the grid, but still eager Fuku customers.

 

Let’s not disdain them, but the fury unleashed on restaurants for failing to cater to this slender segment seems disproportionate.

 

To be honest, and if I’m wrong I apologize, but I wonder if participants here knew that debit cards are readily and instantly available to very low income applicants. It’s hard to imagine that the initial anxiety was about people with no address, maybe, or no social security number getting served.

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Nor does the fact that it was evidently easy for Wilf. or someone he knows, to get a prepaid card. That doesn't mena it's as easy for everyone who tries.

 

And what good is getting the card for free, if one can't use it for free?

Oh lord, it’s easy for anyone. Go hang out at a Pay-o-Matic. The brand is not exclusive. If you don’t get a card, you are explicitly invited to ask a manager why. They want people to get cards.

 

Yes, there is a cost to using debit and credit cards.

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[i don’t want to raise any hackles, but of course a lot of people in my personal and family life are low income and/or have difficulty stitching together a persuasive tapestry of documentation (shall we say?) and everyone else is doing money-sending stuff or you know, so I do know.]

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Still puzzled about the hassle factor. Much easier to get ah over the counter debit card than open a bank account or get approved for a debit card.

 

Once we’re agreed that anyone can get one of these cards, the concerns expressed here really affect very few people; homeless and off the grid, but still eager Fuku customers.

 

Let’s not disdain them, but the fury unleashed on restaurants for failing to cater to this slender segment seems disproportionate.

 

To be honest, and if I’m wrong I apologize, but I wonder if participants here knew that debit cards are readily and instantly available to very low income applicants. It’s hard to imagine that the initial anxiety was about people with no address, maybe, or no social security number getting served.

 

I would have no idea how to obtain one of these cards, but I know they exist.

 

There's a lot of overlap between this point and the points raised in Scarcity (which I reference earlier). I think it's easy to underestimate how much effort or cost something like getting a prepaid debit card is for someone of limited means. Hypothetically, in a near cashless world (where, say, McDonald's and dollar stores are cashless), the sheer effort it would take to operate on pre-paid debit cards and track one's expenditures on that would be difficult. This is why I have automatic mortgage payments. What you're doing when saying that the poor should just get prepaid debit cards to deal with cashless transactions (forgetting Fuku for a moment) is interposing another step - figure out where to get a prepaid debit card, have sufficient cash to load it with, track the amount on the card, repeat - to what used to be a simple transaction - count the cash in my pocket, pay. I just reject the premise that relying on prepaid debit cards to purchase certain goods is a low cost step for the poor (even if providers want people to buy these cards). 

 

I just think that to take a style of restaurant that is typically considered to be widely accessible and to make it less so is hostile to the poor. Again, even if the practical consequences aren't great (though, as mentioned, if we view fast food restaurants as a bellwether, the practical consequences of supporting the model may be more signification). 

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I am very narrowly concerned with the rage directed at places like Fuku and Pasta Flyer, which we all know are not targeting the segment we’re now discussing and nor should they.

 

If anything it’s easier to run a prepaid card if you have income insecurity than run one tied to a bank account where you have to track whether a check has been paid, whether a deposit is yet available.

 

My remarks are only about the access to the kinds of places Sneak railed about, which are irrelevant, not only to people who can’t get prepaid cards, but to most people who can.

 

As I said above, more relevant to be concerned about how people make essential payments and live their lives than whether they can get a $10 pasta bowl.

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Oddly, both Pasta Flyer and Fuku have closed. Other no-cash places (Van Lewwwewewen) seem like they must be money laundering ops...

 

I think the point is very low / random income peeps get paid in cash and you should make the option to pay cash available to them until they all get paid venmo or such.

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[i don’t want to raise any hackles, but of course a lot of people in my personal and family life are low income and/or have difficulty stitching together a persuasive tapestry of documentation (shall we say?) and everyone else is doing money-sending stuff or you know, so I do know.]

 

I think you're judging logarithmic issues as linear.

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Still puzzled about the hassle factor. Much easier to get ah over the counter debit card than open a bank account or get approved for a debit card.

 

Once we’re agreed that anyone can get one of these cards, the concerns expressed here really affect very few people; homeless and off the grid, but still eager Fuku customers.

 

Let’s not disdain them, but the fury unleashed on restaurants for failing to cater to this slender segment seems disproportionate.

 

To be honest, and if I’m wrong I apologize, but I wonder if participants here knew that debit cards are readily and instantly available to very low income applicants. It’s hard to imagine that the initial anxiety was about people with no address, maybe, or no social security number getting served.

I would have no idea how to obtain one of these cards, but I know they exist.

 

There's a lot of overlap between this point and the points raised in Scarcity (which I reference earlier). I think it's easy to underestimate how much effort or cost something like getting a prepaid debit card is for someone of limited means. Hypothetically, in a near cashless world (where, say, McDonald's and dollar stores are cashless), the sheer effort it would take to operate on pre-paid debit cards and track one's expenditures on that would be difficult. This is why I have automatic mortgage payments. What you're doing when saying that the poor should just get prepaid debit cards to deal with cashless transactions (forgetting Fuku for a moment) is interposing another step - figure out where to get a prepaid debit card, have sufficient cash to load it with, track the amount on the card, repeat - to what used to be a simple transaction - count the cash in my pocket, pay. I just reject the premise that relying on prepaid debit cards to purchase certain goods is a low cost step for the poor (even if providers want people to buy these cards).

 

I just think that to take a style of restaurant that is typically considered to be widely accessible and to make it less so is hostile to the poor. Again, even if the practical consequences aren't great (though, as mentioned, if we view fast food restaurants as a bellwether, the practical consequences of supporting the model may be more signification).

Not that it matters, but obviously this is my exact point.

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The system makes the restaurants inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t want to obtain or use a card, whether they are rich or poor. As we’ve seen, cards aren’t at all hard to get, except possibly for people who are completely off the grid, and likely homeless.

 

If your point is that those people can’t eat at Fuku, I suspect they’re more concerned about collecting money for a shelter. It would be kind of creepy if Chang was trying to get them to spend their money on a fancy sandwich.

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Because credit card companies and banks have alternative ways of monetizing your business?

 

All I'm saying is that for the very niche population threatened by this trend -- those who can afford $10 chicken sandwiches but can't open a checking account -- there's are obvious solutions.

 

Several cashless businesses around us have returned to taking cash (City of Saints most recently) or have abandoned plans to go totally cashless in some locations (McD, Shake Shack).

 

Where the "everyone can get a debit card" theory breaks is:

 

- Tourists from countries with cards that are difficult / expensive to use internationally or who are just culturally still inclined to go to a money exchange window, or Venezuelans.

- Tourists from the suburbs who find it somehow offensive to pay for small stuff using cards (not sure why, but I'm told it's a thing, and can confirm on weekends we get many more cash transactions than mid-week)

- People who balk, either on principle or because they haven't signed up to that theory

- Real life folks who come to buy fancy sandwiches with their hard earned quarters, dimes, and singles.

 

eta: so from a business perspective, even if everyone can do it, you stand to lose some (5%?) of sales because some don't.

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