Spanish consumer organisation warns against payment practices in the hospitality industry

by Lorraine Williamson
payment by card not always possible

MADRID – The Spanish consumer organisation Facua has warned against a practice that is particularly common in beach bars and summer terraces. Catering establishments oblige customers to pay in cash because their payment terminal is said to be ‘broken’.

These companies often indicate at the entrance that card payment is possible. Later they then claim that their payment terminal is defective so the customer has to pay in cash. According to Facua, this is not an incidental event, but a frequently recurring phenomenon. By requiring cash payments, catering establishments avoid the commissions that banks levy when paying with a terminal. 

Payment terminal ‘permanent’ defective 

If it is indicated in advance that the payment terminal is defective, the customer can choose to sit elsewhere or pay in cash. However, it is suspicious that some establishments permanently display signs that say “no card payments, payment terminal defective” or something similar. Facua points out that in some cases these signs are “plasticised and even framed, with dust on them. Indicating this is not a temporary situation. 

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Saying that "you can't pay with a card" has become a common payment practice in some places, if you don't notify it, you can report it

Facua emphasises that consumers cannot be obliged to pay in cash if they have not been informed in advance that this option is not available. If for any reason, the catering establishment does not accept card payment, it must provide a bank account number for a transfer. Furthermore it can provide a mobile number for payment via Bizum.

The organisation also reminds that consumers can report these payment practices to the consumer organisations in their autonomous community for the “possible presence of a violation”. They also can report these to the tax authorities. The establishment in question may only accept cash payments in order not to declare part of their income.

Also see: Increase in debit card payments in Spain is devastating for catering staff 

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