Bill Eliminating Discrimination against Cash-Paying Consumers Signed into Law

Prohibiting discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash, was signed into law today by Governor Phil Murphy. The bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Angelica M. Jimenez.

The bill (A-591) specifically makes it an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for a person to sell or offer for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash. The bill is applicable to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or internet based transactions.

“Many people don’t have access to consumer credit and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash is discriminatory towards those people,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in New Jersey.”

The sponsors also referred to an article written last year regarding how Visa had pushed for more small businesses to participate in a program that would offer up to $10,000 each to 50 U.S. based small businesses if they were to make their payment technology completely digital.

Any person in violation of this bill would be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and a third or subsequent offense would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act.

“Credit card companies providing incentive to small businesses if they commit to updating their digital payment technology and not accepting cash transactions is simply unfair to those who prefer to pay in cash,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer). “The intent of this bill is to ward off any potential discrimination and allow consumers to pay in the method of their choosing.”

“Paying in cash for most goods and services is a preferred method for many people,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). “Credit card companies should not lure consumers into obtaining credit this way. If someone would rather pay in cash, then they should be able to.”

Companies in the business of renting motor vehicles will be exempted from this bill. Motor vehicle companies would not be required to accept cash, provided they accept cashier’s checks or certified checks.

The new law takes effect immediately.

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