Assemblyman Moriarty Bill Eliminating Discrimination against Cash-Paying Consumers Clears Legislature

Prohibiting discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty was given final legislative passage in the Assembly on Thursday, 71-2.

The bill (A-591) specifically makes it an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for a person to sell or offer for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash. The bill is applicable to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or internet based transactions.

“Many people do not have access to consumer credit and any effort by retail establishments to ban the use of cash would be discriminatory towards those people,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in New Jersey.”

The sponsor also referred to an article written last year regarding how Visa had pushed for more small businesses to participate in a program that would offer up to $10,000 each to 50 U.S. based small businesses if they were to make their payment technology completely digital.
Any person in violation of this bill would be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense, and a third or subsequent offense would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act.

Companies in the business of renting motor vehicles will be exempted from this bill. Motor vehicle companies would not be required to accept cash, provided they accept cashier’s checks or certified checks.

The Senate passed the measure 39-0 also on Thursday.