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Cash Free On-Board - Open Discussion

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This whole cash issue is a potentially politically charged one as people experienced in India, when currency notes with the widest circulation were demonetized one fine night without any prior notice, ostensibly in an effort to smoke out so called "Black Money" held in the form of ill begotten cash. It caused a lot of problem for the generally law abiding citizens, and the holders of the illegitimate cash were mostly able to exchange them for the newly issued substitute currency with a little underground help from their friends in the banks. So at the end of it most of the demonetized cash came back to the government and the holders of the illegitimate cash were mostly none the worse for it. They are now just holding illegitimate new currency cash. :) So everyone claimed victory and life goes on. Only the little guy with no friends in banks got screwed. This suggest to me that merely moving away from cash will probably not fix the alleged problem that one is trying to solve, if it is something other than just not having to carry wads of it around in bags that is.

 

Pushing the entire country towards becoming a cashless society is one of the obsessions of the current government, and this in a country where more than a quarter of the economy is not even fully monetized, i.e. uses cash. There is a rather large "Barter Economy" which shows no sign of going away, let along going to monetized cashless economy.

Edited by jis

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Amtrak should move to an on-board cash free environment just as have the airlines. So how say we address the issue, pro and con, here? The Amtrak IG certainly favors it; any of us around here who hold the title CPA, likely also do. I for one, a retired CPA, am all in favor and would not inconvenience me in the least.

You never even bothered to post WHAT the "issue" is or WHY you think banning cash would resolve it, other than to say it wouldn't inconvenience you. If it's about Amtrak staff stealing money from their employer maybe Amtrak should try to weed out the bad apples and stop hiring thieves rather than punishing their customers with fewer options for payment. Paying with plastic certainly has its uses but for me it isn't worth handing 1%-5% of my annual income to some monkey point middleman. Cash isn't perfect but that's no reason to ban it for everyone else just because you don't happen to need it. This post reeks of low effort reasoning.

 

 

I wouldn't state it in the same way, but I agree with you entirely. Employee steeling is Amtrak's problem. Although I use the credit card where ever possible (for the points), there is nothing illegal, immoral, unethical, or politically incorrect about using cash.

 

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???

 

https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/crime/2017/11/27/woman-suing-amtrak-montana-hi-line-rape-case/892758001/

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Businesses have lots of good reasons not to handle cash that go well beyond employee theft. Those costs are passed on to you also, and may or may not be more of an issue to a company than the cost of a credit card transaction.

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If it saves Amtrak money (reducing employee theft, accidental loss, etc.) and it allows for more revenue (letting coach and sleeping attendants sell food and drinks like the airline flight attendants do) it seems to be a win win to me.

 

Do any major airlines still accept cash on board? (I've only flown southwest lately so I honestly don't know.)

 

If Amtrak makes more money by accepting cash on board, then that would be the sensible business decision to make.

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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.

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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/payments/pay-with-cash-at-a-retail-partner

 

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

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I think to go cashless Amtrak will need to come up with a card one could buy from a machine/ATM for a specified amount. Maybe have recharge ability like the commuter systems have.

Or some sort of voucher system at the ticket counter.

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I think to go cashless Amtrak will need to come up with a card one could buy from a machine/ATM for a specified amount. Maybe have recharge ability like the commuter systems have.

 

Or some sort of voucher system at the ticket counter.
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 as it improves the odds that we will we have LD trains with an acceptable food service in the long term. The old days of faux fine dining are just that, get over it (and Im no Millennial - well maybe for the 20th century). For those who can only pay cash for tickets, offer a voucher, as suggested, or AmCard or generic prepaid Visa, for food at the time they purchase tickets. I much prefer using a card as it helps me track expenses. Perhaps offer a discount if you use an Amtrak MasterCard. Edited by Palmland

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Well, things have sure changed from the time I tried to pay with a credit card for dinner in the diner on the Crescent in 1990. I spent a good part of the evening twiddling my thumbs waiting for the card to be processed.

 

of course, in the good old days, circa 1975, they didn't bother trying to connect to a computer database when processing a card, they just checked the card against a booklet of bad cards periodically issued by Bank Americard (visa) and Mastercharge (Mastercard).

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Well, things have sure changed from the time I tried to pay with a credit card for dinner in the diner on the Crescent in 1990. I spent a good part of the evening twiddling my thumbs waiting for the card to be processed.

 

of course, in the good old days, circa 1975, they didn't bother trying to connect to a computer database when processing a card, they just checked the card against a booklet of bad cards periodically issued by Bank Americard (visa) and Mastercharge (Mastercard).

And then they took a paper imprint of the card using one of those mechanical devices so that the rest of the world could steal your credit card number easily from improperly disposed off charge slips. That is why the non-embossed Card Verification Code came about.

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I think to go cashless Amtrak will need to come up with a card one could buy from a machine/ATM for a specified amount. Maybe have recharge ability like the commuter systems have.

Or some sort of voucher system at the ticket counter.

 

Assuming there is a ticket counter.

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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.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/bank-fees-welfare_n_5072087.html

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kansas-welfare-bill-would-cut-into-benefits-with-atm-fees/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/21/kansas-has-found-the-ultimate-way-to-punish-the-poor

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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

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/payments/pay-with-cash-at-a-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.

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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.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/the-sinister-side-of-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

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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/payments/pay-with-cash-at-a-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.

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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.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/bank-fees-welfare_n_5072087.html

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kansas-welfare-bill-would-cut-into-benefits-with-atm-fees/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/21/kansas-has-found-the-ultimate-way-to-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.

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