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The Legal Lad's Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life,
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Hello, and welcome to
Legal Lad's Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life
But first, a disclaimer: Although I am an attorney, the legal information in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for seeking personalized legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Further, I do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener.
Today's topic is a merchant's obligation to accept cash payments. Kevin from Florida wrote:
[<b>Apple</b> <span class=" TICKERFLAT">(<a href="/quote/AAPL.html">AAPL</a> - <a href="http://secure2.thestreet.com/cap/prm.do?OID=028198&ticker=AAPL">Get Report</a><a class=" arrow" href="/quote/AAPL.html"><span class=" tickerChange" id="story_AAPL"></span></a>)</span> recently announced] that it would no longer accept cash payments for an iPhone, [and] only [accept] credit cards. Is this legal to refuse legal tender in the United States?
Great question, Kevin! Apple claims that it is requiring credit cards so it can track purchases to prevent customers from buying the iPhone, unlocking its protection software, and then reselling it. Apple's recent move has sparked a surprising amount of controversy, and has alienated some customers.
The short answer is that a merchant can lawfully require payment in any reasonable form, and Apple's recent move to require credit cards does not seem to violate any federal law.
Open your wallet or purse and take out a bill. You will notice that every bill contains on the front the phrase "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." The Legal Tender Statute, 31 U.S.C 5103, provides "United States coins and currency (including
notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."