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Cash Free On-Board - Open Discussion


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#41 PVD

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 05:49 PM

Actually, in many states there is at least one major bank system available for a no transaction fee withdrawal because the state makes that part of the deal with the issuing bank. Is getting a check and having a check cashing store take a cut, or paying a fee for a low balance checking account any better? Much better when people get robbed for their checks, or their mailboxes get pilfered.


Edited by PVD, 05 June 2018 - 05:51 PM.


#42 Walt

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 05:56 PM

Good idea. If going cashless helps Amtrak reduce costs and makes it possible to meet congressionaly mandated requirements, then we should be all for it ...


Not picking on @Palmland, but I though it was a good branching off point to mention who will pay all the fees? The 2% to 2.5% per transaction fee? The card terminal use fee? The communication fee? The gateway fees? And so on?

IMHO, it would be difficult to Amtrak to justify switching from fee-less cash system, to a fee-laden card system.
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#43 jis

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:03 PM

 

Good idea. If going cashless helps Amtrak reduce costs and makes it possible to meet congressionaly mandated requirements, then we should be all for it ...


Not picking on @Palmland, but I though it was a good branching off point to mention who will pay all the fees? The 2% to 2.5% per transaction fee? The card terminal use fee? The communication fee? The gateway fees? And so on?

IMHO, it would be difficult to Amtrak to justify switching from fee-less cash system, to a fee-laden card system.

 

Amtrak already pays those base fees since it accepts credit card transactions. Of course the per transaction fee comes in and as DA explained earlier usually that is simply absorbed in higher price for the merchandise, and unless there is a special cash price it is the cash payers who get dinged with extra prices.



#44 PVD

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:06 PM

Large volume customers negotiate more favorable terms, and the cost of counting and handling cash both onboard and at terminals, including transporting large sums which usually involves an armored service that is not cheap. The cost spread is not a major factor.



#45 jebr

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:07 PM

 

Good idea. If going cashless helps Amtrak reduce costs and makes it possible to meet congressionaly mandated requirements, then we should be all for it ...


Not picking on @Palmland, but I though it was a good branching off point to mention who will pay all the fees? The 2% to 2.5% per transaction fee? The card terminal use fee? The communication fee? The gateway fees? And so on?

IMHO, it would be difficult to Amtrak to justify switching from fee-less cash system, to a fee-laden card system.

 

 

Depending on the card processor, those fees may be lower than for a small business, and even small businesses can use something like Square that has a flat rate under 3% (I think it's 2.75%, but it's been a while since I used it.) It even has an offline mode if signal goes down. If Amtrak can't negotiate lower fees than what's available for the general public, then there's an issue.

 

(If BoA offers processing services, maybe Amtrak could ask for a deal on that in the next contract for the AGR card, unless something already exists for that.)

 

Plus, taking cash isn't always free, either. It has accounting costs and labor costs to balance and make sure the amount of cash matches what should be in the till, armored vehicle costs to take it from the train to the depositing bank, and perhaps a fee from the bank to deposit it. If Amtrak went completely cashless, those fees would go away and all of the accounting could be done electronically.



#46 PVD

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:07 PM

Some businesses use it as an excuse to gouge. 



#47 the_traveler

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:22 PM

Airlines are private. Amtrak is not.
 
Removing cash would result in an immediate lawsuit on disparate effect on low income riders and minorities (who are unbanked at much higher levels). Especially for routes where passengers can pay cash on board for their tickets.
 
If your goal is to cost Amtrak money, then going cash-only is one fine way to get there.

Oh really. Here is what the IRS has to say about taking cash payments for taxes. They charge a fee and I haven't heard of them getting sued.
https://www.irs.gov/...-retail-partner
 
Here is what the Federal Reserve says: https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm 
If you notice, you are not directly paying it to IRS, but to a 3rd party (PayNearMe). They are the ones who charge you the fee!

The same as if you go on the Amtrak or AGR site and want to buy AGR points. It is handled by a 3rd party (Points.com)who charges a fee. It is not directly AGR.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#48 GBNorman

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 06:39 PM

I admit bias on this subject; to me, cash is sinister. I have told tradesmen to move on when they started to suggest "could you get me some cash?".

https://www.google.c...cash-1472137692

Fair Use:

Paper money fuels corruption, terrorism, tax evasion and illegal immigrationso the U.S. should get rid of the $100 bill and other large notes.

When I tell people that I have been doing research on why the government should drastically scale back the circulation of cashpaper currencythe most common initial reaction is bewilderment. Why should anyone care about such a mundane topic? But paper currency lies at the heart of some of todays most intractable public-finance and monetary problems. Getting rid of most of itthat is, moving to a society where cash is used less frequently and mainly for small transactionscould be a big help.

There is little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the U.S. $100 bill, facilitates crime: racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism. There are substitutes for cashcryptocurrencies, uncut diamonds, gold coins, prepaid cardsbut for many kinds of criminal transactions, cash is still king. It delivers absolute anonymity, portability, liquidity and near-universal acceptance. It is no accident that whenever there is a big-time drug bust, the authorities typically find wads of cash.

Cash is also deeply implicated in tax evasion, which costs the federal government some $500 billion a year in revenue. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a lot of the action is concentrated in small cash-intensive businesses, where it is difficult to verify sales and the self-reporting of income. By contrast, businesses that take payments mostly by check, bank card or electronic transfer know that it is much easier for tax authorities to catch them dissembling. Though the data are much thinner for state and local governments, they too surely lose big-time from tax evasion, perhaps as much as $200 billion a year.


I simply wanted a forum topic where both sides of what almost is a social issue can be discussed.

I can recall an issue a few years back when I was in San Francisco on business and employer said "you are out there for the duration". This guy, co-worker of sorts, said he'd takee around to see some sights. He did; I thought it appropriate to pick up the dinner check. Here it comes and to which I added a tip to my American Express. He says "can I catch the tip?". "It's all on the card" and I showed to him. "How do you know he will get it?". "He picked up the payment; he will get it
AND he will pay his taxes on it".
"Well, that's the best reason why I give my tips in cash".

End of dialogue.

Edited by GBNorman, 05 June 2018 - 07:08 PM.


#49 seat38a

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 07:08 PM

 

 

Airlines are private. Amtrak is not.
 
Removing cash would result in an immediate lawsuit on disparate effect on low income riders and minorities (who are unbanked at much higher levels). Especially for routes where passengers can pay cash on board for their tickets.
 
If your goal is to cost Amtrak money, then going cash-only is one fine way to get there.

Oh really. Here is what the IRS has to say about taking cash payments for taxes. They charge a fee and I haven't heard of them getting sued.
https://www.irs.gov/...-retail-partner
 
Here is what the Federal Reserve says: https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm 
If you notice, you are not directly paying it to IRS, but to a 3rd party (PayNearMe). They are the ones who charge you the fee!

The same as if you go on the Amtrak or AGR site and want to buy AGR points. It is handled by a 3rd party (Points.com)who charges a fee. It is not directly AGR.

 

Ok the point is even the IRS won't accept it and you have to pay a fee to use it. Jamess claimed Amtrak can't stop taking cash because they would get sued for discriminating against the bankless.



#50 seat38a

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 07:16 PM

 

Yeah did we all forget about the rapist employee that Amtrak could not fire??? What exactly should Amtrak do with their problem employees? Should they be hanged from the nearest tree? Theirs limbs cut off maybe? Hell they can't be fired, so whats the solution to the theft issue???


So Amtrak has a problem with employees who steal and rape and we're going to solve that problem, not by removing those employees or fixing rules that protect them, but by refusing to accept cash payments? That honestly makes no sense to me. Seems like were merely attacking the symptom while ignoring the root cause.

 

Nonsense, even public benefits are paid on cards today. You don't need a bank to buy a cash card.


Yes, now even the humble welfare handout can come with a poverty punishing transaction fee. Yay progress.

https://www.huffingt..._n_5072087.html
https://fivethirtyei...-with-atm-fees/
https://www.washingt...punish-the-poor

 

So you think continuously doing the same broken thing is the solution? I'd like to hear YOUR solution to the bad employees which Amtrak can't seem to get rid of.



#51 Dakota 400

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 07:19 PM

GBNorman's post about putting gratuities on a credit card as compared to giving the server a cash tip is an issue that has troubled me for years.  

 

As an honest taxpayer, I report all the income that I receive in a year including the amounts that is not reported to IRS officially.  Do others?  Probably not, but that is between them and their conscious.

 

Never having held a job that received gratuities, I wonder what do these good folks do at income tax reporting time?

 

What can these folks tell us?  Tips in cash?  Tips on a credit/debt card?



#52 Triley

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 07:22 PM

Can we just nip this topic now, and move on? They were going to try cashless on the Acelas, and got rid of that decision. If the train that had the highest percentage of its sales be credit cards sales won't go cashless, then...

And how about this...a few weeks ago my credit card machine was toast from Vancouver to Seattle. 5 hours I was serving, and cash only. How could we have handled that if we only took credit cards? I had a few people I comped food to because they simply had no cash and needed something to eat.

Then there's the thing that (depending on the train), more than 2/3rds of my sales will be done in cash, because of the clientele. Most tourists seem to prefer to use only cash, to avoid a fluctuating exchange rate, as well a foreign transaction fee

That all being said... In a perfect world I'd be content to operate credit only because my end of trip paperwork would be so much easier, and I could get off the train with far less headaches, but...I doubt I'll see it roll out nationwide while I'm working onboard.

Edited by Triley, 05 June 2018 - 07:33 PM.

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#53 the_traveler

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 07:30 PM

There is also a line on many state tax returns where taxpayers can report the sales tax for items purchased online “tax free” where the state sales tax was not charged. How many people fill that line correctly?:huh:

I would guess very few do.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#54 neroden

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 08:19 PM

I see why Amtrak, which does not trust its employees, wants to go cashless.  It's stupid and counterproductive, of course, but I see why they want to do it.

 

The fact is: cash is king.  Cash is the only absolutely reliable method of payment. 


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#55 neroden

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 08:23 PM

 

Airlines are private. Amtrak is not.

 

Removing cash would result in an immediate lawsuit on disparate effect on low income riders and minorities (who are unbanked at much higher levels). Especially for routes where passengers can pay cash on board for their tickets.

 

If your goal is to cost Amtrak money, then going cash-only is one fine way to get there.

Oh really. Here is what the IRS has to say about taking cash payments for taxes. They charge a fee and I haven't heard of them getting sued.

https://www.irs.gov/...-retail-partner

 

Here is what the Federal Reserve says: https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm 

 

 

The IRS has gotten sued for not accepting cash, and for charging fees for accepting cash.  The IRS lost.  The IRS backed down.  You can pay the IRS with cash at a designated IRS office, and the major marijuana businesses in Colorado do exactly that.  And they're the ones who sued.  (They have to use cash because the federal government is preventing them from getting bank accounts.)

 

It's a recent and well-known case.  Just because you haven't heard of it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

 

The IRS is legally obligated to accept cash by the legal tender laws, because the cash is offered in payment of a *debt* (a tax bill).  Amtrak is not obligated to accept cash in the cafe because they don't give you the food until after you pay, so you never owe a *debt*.  However, if they give you the food, you eat it, and your credit card doesn't go through due to some accident, *then* Amtrak is legally obligated to accept cash -- that's how the legal tender laws work.  They only apply to debts.


Edited by neroden, 05 June 2018 - 08:25 PM.

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#56 Triley

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 08:26 PM

 

Airlines are private. Amtrak is not.
 
Removing cash would result in an immediate lawsuit on disparate effect on low income riders and minorities (who are unbanked at much higher levels). Especially for routes where passengers can pay cash on board for their tickets.
 
If your goal is to cost Amtrak money, then going cash-only is one fine way to get there.

Oh really. Here is what the IRS has to say about taking cash payments for taxes. They charge a fee and I haven't heard of them getting sued.
https://www.irs.gov/...-retail-partner
 
Here is what the Federal Reserve says: https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm 
 
 
The IRS has gotten sued for not accepting cash, and for charging fees for accepting cash.  The IRS lost.  The IRS backed down.  You can pay the IRS with cash at an IRS office, and the major marijuana businesses in Colorado do exactly that.  And they're the ones who sued.  It's a recent and well-known case.
 
The IRS is legally obligated to accept cash by the legal tender laws, because the cash is offered in payment of a *debt* (a tax bill).  Amtrak is not obligated to accept cash in the cafe because they don't give you the food until after you pay.  However, if they give you the food, you eat it, and your credit card doesn't go through due to some accident, *then* Amtrak is legally obligated to accept cash -- that's how the legal tender laws work.  They only apply to debts.
(I wish I could crop a bunch of the conversation out, but I'm on my phone, so I apologize.)

"However, if they give you the food, you eat it, and your credit card doesn't go through due to some accident, *then* Amtrak is legally obligated to accept cash."

You mean, in say...a diner? Perfect example.

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#57 FreeskierInVT

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 09:01 PM

And how about this...a few weeks ago my credit card machine was toast from Vancouver to Seattle. 5 hours I was serving, and cash only. How could we have handled that if we only took credit cards? I had a few people I comped food to because they simply had no cash and needed something to eat.
 

 

This was the case when I was on the Empire Builder a few weeks ago. The credit card machine in the cafe car was out of order, which meant they would only accept cash all the way from Chicago to Portland. The credit card machine in the dining car was working, but I imagine using that machine in the cafe would cause accounting headaches. I don't know what coach passengers without cash did for meals. I ran out of cash to use for tips and ran to an ATM in town during the 80 minute stop we had after our early arrival into Minot, ND.


Amtrak Routes taken: Vermonter (39), Ethan Allen Express (12), Northeast Regional (22), Acela Express (4; 2 BC/2 FC), Cardinal (1), Capitol Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited-Boston (1), Lake Shore Limited- New York (2), Empire Builder- Seattle (1), Empire Builder- Portland (1), Coast Starlight (1), California Zephyr (1), Amtrak Cascades (2), Downeaster (11; 5 w/ Dome Car), Adirondack (4; 1 w/ Dome Car), Hiawatha (2),  Maple Leaf (1), Keystone (3), Pennsylvanian (1), Springfield Shuttle (6), Autumn Express (Nov. 3, 2013);

VIA Rail Canada: Canadian (4), Skeena (2), Ocean (4), Corridor (2) - Canada Youth 150 Pass 2017

Total Amtrak/VIA mileage: 39,204 // 2018: 12,632 // 2017: 9,496 // 2016: 2,702 // 2015: 362 // 2014: 7,858 // 2013: 6,154


#58 Triley

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 09:18 PM

And how about this...a few weeks ago my credit card machine was toast from Vancouver to Seattle. 5 hours I was serving, and cash only. How could we have handled that if we only took credit cards? I had a few people I comped food to because they simply had no cash and needed something to eat.
 

 
This was the case when I was on the Empire Builder a few weeks ago. The credit card machine in the cafe car was out of order, which meant they would only accept cash all the way from Chicago to Portland. The credit card machine in the dining car was working, but I imagine using that machine in the cafe would cause accounting headaches. I don't know what coach passengers without cash did for meals. I ran out of cash to use for tips and ran to an ATM in town during the 80 minute stop we had after our early arrival into Minot, ND.
The way the accounting is handled there would've been no way to use the credit card machine for both cars at the same time. The best they could've done (and perhaps should've done) would be to at least loan the machine to the cafe in between meal periods.

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#59 JayPea

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 09:53 PM


And how about this...a few weeks ago my credit card machine was toast from Vancouver to Seattle. 5 hours I was serving, and cash only. How could we have handled that if we only took credit cards? I had a few people I comped food to because they simply had no cash and needed something to eat.
 

 
This was the case when I was on the Empire Builder a few weeks ago. The credit card machine in the cafe car was out of order, which meant they would only accept cash all the way from Chicago to Portland. The credit card machine in the dining car was working, but I imagine using that machine in the cafe would cause accounting headaches. I don't know what coach passengers without cash did for meals. I ran out of cash to use for tips and ran to an ATM in town during the 80 minute stop we had after our early arrival into Minot, ND.

That must have been the same train I was on from Spokane to Portland. I was riding coach and fortunately had cash on me; I returned to Spokane that same day and the machine was up and running on the return trip.
Amtrak Miles and Trains Traveled: 89811-City of New Orleans, State House/Lincoln Service, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, Cascades, Crescent, Capital Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited,  Pacific Surfliner, Cardinal, Vermonter, Northeast Regional, Downeaster, Heartland Flyer, Wolverine. 
Pre-Amtrak Miles Traveled: 8478-- North Coast Limited, Panama Limited, Empire Builder, Abraham Lincoln, City of Hinkle

#60 FreeskierInVT

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 10:38 PM

 

 

And how about this...a few weeks ago my credit card machine was toast from Vancouver to Seattle. 5 hours I was serving, and cash only. How could we have handled that if we only took credit cards? I had a few people I comped food to because they simply had no cash and needed something to eat.
 

 
This was the case when I was on the Empire Builder a few weeks ago. The credit card machine in the cafe car was out of order, which meant they would only accept cash all the way from Chicago to Portland. The credit card machine in the dining car was working, but I imagine using that machine in the cafe would cause accounting headaches. I don't know what coach passengers without cash did for meals. I ran out of cash to use for tips and ran to an ATM in town during the 80 minute stop we had after our early arrival into Minot, ND.

That must have been the same train I was on from Spokane to Portland. I was riding coach and fortunately had cash on me; I returned to Spokane that same day and the machine was up and running on the return trip.

 

 

I was on the train that left CHI on 5/13 (which would have left SPK 5/15). I didn't end up purchasing anything in the cafe. The only time I went to buy something, they had closed at 9:45, 15 minutes before their announced closing time of 10pm. Every meal in the dining car I noticed at least 3-4 coach passengers at the tables around me paying by card, so I imagine the diner got some extra business from the lack of a working card machine in the cafe.


Amtrak Routes taken: Vermonter (39), Ethan Allen Express (12), Northeast Regional (22), Acela Express (4; 2 BC/2 FC), Cardinal (1), Capitol Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited-Boston (1), Lake Shore Limited- New York (2), Empire Builder- Seattle (1), Empire Builder- Portland (1), Coast Starlight (1), California Zephyr (1), Amtrak Cascades (2), Downeaster (11; 5 w/ Dome Car), Adirondack (4; 1 w/ Dome Car), Hiawatha (2),  Maple Leaf (1), Keystone (3), Pennsylvanian (1), Springfield Shuttle (6), Autumn Express (Nov. 3, 2013);

VIA Rail Canada: Canadian (4), Skeena (2), Ocean (4), Corridor (2) - Canada Youth 150 Pass 2017

Total Amtrak/VIA mileage: 39,204 // 2018: 12,632 // 2017: 9,496 // 2016: 2,702 // 2015: 362 // 2014: 7,858 // 2013: 6,154





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