Massachusetts Attorney General Says ‘Cash Has To Be Accepted Everywhere’

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By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell said Tuesday her office is taking another look at an issue that had previously been settled by her predecessor, now-Governor Maura Healey — whether businesses can require customers pay with something other than cold hard cash.

“Cash has to be accepted everywhere. And so we’re actively reviewing this. Obviously, some things happened before I got into office,” Campbell said on GBH Radio’s Boston Public Radio on Tuesday, December 12. The attorney general was responding to a question about “cashlessness” from co-host Margery Eagan, who said listeners had texted in with examples of cash being declined at Baystate Medical Center, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and the Boston Calling music festival. Campbell asked those listeners to file complaints with her office.

As attorney general last year, Healey said her office was “looking at” Fenway Park’s then-new cashless payment policy for concessions, with equity in mind. The next day, Healey gave the system — in which fans carrying cash can load their money onto a MasterCard debit card and then use it to pay for their hot dog and beer — her blessing, saying she didn’t “think this a big deal,” The Boston Globe reported. TD Garden and Gillette Stadium have similarly gone cashless.

Massachusetts law requires retailers to “accept legal tender when offered as payment by the buyer,” and states:  “No retail establishment offering goods and services for sale shall discriminate against a cash buyer by requiring the use of credit by a buyer in order to purchase such goods and services.”

On the radio Tuesday, Campbell suggested that her predecessor’s green light for cash-free venues has changed into a yellow light under her administration. She said her office will have more to say on the matter in the future and added that there have already been conversations with some of the venues Eagan mentioned “based on what was done or said previously.”

“I know we’ve gotten a lot of outreach here. Give me a little bit more time, we’ll be back on this in terms of what the law is and how folks have to come into compliance,” Campbell said. “And we also are mindful that, whether it’s young people, elders, not everyone has a credit card, not everyone has a smartphone app, and various ways in which people are expecting them to pay. They have to take all forms of money. So more to come on that.”


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