Business

Debit, credit cards a bane n and blessing n for gas stations

LYNN – Introducing credit cards at her family?s Summer Street service station proved to be a “good news/bad news” experience for proprietor Laura Walsh.On one hand, John?s Oil customers appreciate the convenience of being able to hand a credit card to a John?s employee instead of forking over cash.But with convenience has come a host of interest charges associated with the cards that has redefined the cost of doing business for the gasoline and heating oil distributor.Credit card companies charge John?s interest rates ranging from seven-tenths of a percent to 2 percent depending on what type of card customers pull out to buy their gas.On Sept. 30, John?s was assessed credit charges ranging from nine-one hundredths of a percent to 2.1 percent for cards processed through the company?s pumps.The interest rates also differ between pump-mounted credit card processing machines and the credit card machine next to John?s office cash register.Customers buying several hundred dollars worth of gas – a not-unheard-of-feat for someone filling up a large truck at a time when gas prices are rising – must have their card reinserted into the pump every time they pass the $75 credit limit or get out of their vehicle and pay indoors.?I wish it was a little less confusing,” Walsh said.She is not alone. As the price of gasoline continues to rise, rules to prevent credit card fraud at the nation?s pumps are confusing consumers who just want a full tank of gas.Caps on transaction limits, like the $75 one John?s operates under, are a hassle for motorists who drive all day but also a necessity, said card representatives.?The merchant is protected from bearing the cost of the fraudulent transaction,” said MasterCard spokeswoman Joanne Trout.But only up to a certain amount.For MasterCard customers, it?s $75. Visa and Discover users have a $50 pay-at-the-pump limit. For now, Walsh is not certain if she is losing or making money on credit cards.?It was customer convenience that I was losing money on before when we didn?t take cards,” she said.

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