TOMS RIVER, NJ – America is apparently now experiencing a coin shortage due to COVID-19 and stores across the state are now asking for exact change or credit card payments, but is that legal?
It turns out in 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law against “cash discrimination” by businesses the state. Whether or not a store can demand exact change or refuse service appears to be a grey area.
Under the law, a person selling or offering for sale goods or services at retail shall not require a buyer to pay using credit or to prohibit cash as payment in order to purchase the goods or services. A person selling or offering for sale goods or services at retail shall accept legal tender when offered by the buyer as payment.
Any person in violation of subsection a. of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500 for a first offense and up to $5,000 for a second offense, to be collected in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.). The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of proceedings for the enforcement of the penalty provided by this section.
A third violation of subsection a. of this section is an unlawful practice under P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.), and for the purposes of this subsection shall be considered a first offense.
There are some exceptions to this rule:
- Any person selling goods or services at an airport, provided that at least two persons selling food at each terminal within the airport accept cash as payment.
- Any parking facility owned by a municipality, regardless of whether the facility is operated by the municipality, a parking authority, or an independent third party.
- Any parking facility that accepts mobile payment, provided that the facility does not accept payment by any means other than mobile payment.
- Any company in the business of renting motor vehicles, provided that the company accepts a cashier’s check or a certified check when offered by a buyer as payment.
- As used in this section, “at retail” shall include any retail transaction conducted in person and exclude any telephone, mail, or Internet-based transaction.