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Major cashless backflip: 'Really hard'

Some businesses are going back to accepting cash after copping abuse from customers.

Mary Street Bakery and The Grand Hotel
Mary Street Bakery and The Grand Hotel are two Aussie businesses that have recently returned to accepting cash payments. (Source: Instagram/Facebook)

Businesses across the country have slowly been ditching cash payments as Australians overwhelmingly prefer to tap and go. However, despite the cost and dangers of accepting cash, some are backflipping on that decision as a vocal minority demands their legal tender be accepted wherever they go.

The Grand Hotel in Glenelg, South Australia told Yahoo Finance the pub was going to start accepting cash again, but still "prefers cashless options". And they are not alone.

Abusive customers have forced Mary Street Bakery in Western Australia to backflip on their cashless decision.

"It's quite an expense and a bit of a pain actually [to accept cash], but my overarching sentiment is that I was happy to bring it back because it's about making sure everyone who wants to come, can come – and about protecting my staff," owner Paul Aron revealed to WA Today.

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Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

Aron realised being cashless had the potential to "alienate" some customers and didn't want them to feel left out.

Switching back may seem like an easy task for unsuspecting punters, but it requires a significant change in the way a business operates.

"It's the time that it takes for our stores to count cash in the morning, in the afternoon and when they close, and it's the time it takes my accounting team to reconcile seven cash drawers and to figure out unders and overs, and the closure of bank branches is making it really hard to bank," Aron explained.

Recent data showed only 13 per cent of transactions in Australia were done with cash, meaning 87 per cent of Aussies are tapping and going, even though they have to fork out more money due to surcharges.

But concerns have been raised about the cashless revolution, particularly for elderly Aussies who aren't as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts, as well as rural and regional communities who still depend on cash.

Businesses in Australia are legally able to establish whatever payment system they like, even though cash is legal tender.

Some prefer to be cashless while others want to be cash-only and it seems like both sides of the coin attract horrible sentiments from customers.

Letitia Thomas runs the Smokey Cape Supabake bakery in South West Rocks on the NSW North Coast and told Yahoo Finance their stance on payments sparked a lot of anger.

"My staff were abused a lot by people coming from the cities," she said. "Like, 'Why won't you take EFTPOS, it's ridiculous' and they get the shits.

"So we just put a sign up that said please just accept our decision to be cash only."

The Heritage Bakery in Milton, NSW has been cashless since 2016, but news of its policy went viral earlier this year. Owner Bryan Wareham explained to Yahoo Finance the vitriol from people all over the country was horrible.

He said he was inundated with messages from Aussies hoping his business would shut down and the hate became so much that he temporarily suspended the bakery's Facebook page.

Wareham said while it was a confronting period for the bakery, he said it "bounced back stronger than ever".

It seems the only way to avoid abuse is to have a hybrid model where you accept both cash and card, even though that might not work for many businesses.

Two MPs have recently unveiled a proposed law that would force businesses to carry and accept cash to ensure physical money remains in circulation.

Andrew Gee and Bob Katter introduced a bill this week and if it's legislated then fines of between $5,000 to $25,000 could be levied against entities who don't allow for cash payments.

A poll of nearly 7,800 Yahoo Finance readers showed that 89 per cent of people want this proposal to become law.

The proposed law does allow for some exceptions and businesses could be exempt from carrying and accepting cash if:

  • offering to accept payment in cash would pose a reasonable security risk

  • offering to accept payment in cash would be contrary to another law of the Commonwealth or a law of a State or Territory

  • offering to accept payment in cash would be contrary to current health advice issued by an official or agency of the Commonwealth or of the State or Territory in which the transaction is made

  • cash in the form of change for the purposes of the transaction is needed but not readily available

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