NYC businesses told to pay up after not accepting cash

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This city rule makes no “cents,” according to Big Apple businesses suffering under the ban on cashless establishments.

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Upscale Ice Cream Parlor van leeuwen NYC locations have been fined $12,750 for not accepting legal tender, one of the city’s many merchants troubling for violating a years-old ban.

The city has gone after 23 businesses for violations. The agency said the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection received 152 complaints about cashless businesses across the city. So far 16 businesses have been found guilty by the City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and fined a total of $23,850.

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Counselor Kalman Yeager (D-Brooklyn) said the action was unfair.

“These agencies weaponize our methods to torment small businesses in this city,” he said. “It’s about increasing revenue for the city.”

A sign on the door of the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlor informs potential diners that the establishment does not accept cash.
ZUMA. via Richard B. Levine
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According to agency spokeswoman Carmel Agnant, the city has received half a dozen complaints about Van Leeuwen’s cashless stores since November 2020, when the ban went into effect.

Under the law, stores must accept cash unless they have a machine to convert cash to prepaid cards. Agant said that they cannot charge more for cash payment.

The city council passed a cashless ban in January 2020, as more businesses went cashless to combat the spread of COVID. Proponents of the ban said cashless businesses discriminate against minors and poor people who may not have bank accounts or credit cards.

The bill’s sponsor, then-Councilman Richie Torres (D-Bronx), said at the time of its passage, “New York City cannot allow the digital economy to overtake the 25 percent of New Yorkers who have long been unbanked and under-banked.” are the ones.”

A consumer affairs spokesperson said that in the Van Leeuwen case, the city fired a “cease-holding” letter to the ice cream chain, but it continued to flout the law.

Ben Van Leeuwen, co-founder of the ice cream parlor, denied the breach, saying he didn’t rule out a cash payment because “no one has offered it,” the city said.

But by the verdict of the oath hearing, the city submitted photographs of affidavits and signs in the windows saying they do not accept cash.

Roberta's Pizzeria was also fined for allegedly refusing to pay cash.
Roberta Pizza was also fined for allegedly refusing to pay cash.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

According to the OATH documents, van Leeuwen “expressed his dismay that this provision of the law existed and was being implemented when there were more significant problems in the world.”

Elsewhere, Rizzoli Bookstore on Broadway on the Upper West Side was fined $500 after pleading guilty before OATH and Roberta’s Pizza on Grand Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn Street Pizza was ordered to shell out $1,000 dough.

A woman answering the phone at Rizzoli’s bookstore admitted on Friday that there was a time when they didn’t accept cash, but said, “Now we do.” Roberta’s Pizza declined comment.

The restaurant industry representative noted the benefits of going cashless—especially during a pandemic.

A customer browses in the Rizzoli bookstore.  The flagship store was recently fined $500 for not accepting cash.
A customer browses in the Rizzoli bookstore. The flagship store was recently fined $500 for not accepting cash.
Richard Drew/AP

“We understand the equity issue,” said Andrew Rigi, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “However, going cashless also provides operational opportunities for small businesses. Especially in times of COVID, customers and employees can feel safe.”

And cash-free means peace of mind for workers worried about the next robbery and robbery.

“Not having cash on the site would mean there would be less chance of any kind of theft. And then, strictly speaking, if everything was without cash, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything going wrong or going wrong. It takes away a lot of human error on the accounting side,” said Melissa Fleschchut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

Consumer Affairs defended the enforcement actions: “Cashless businesses exclude more than 300,000 unbanked households in NYC from transacting, as well as those who choose not to use plastic.”

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