Woolworths fail

In what could be characterised as classic duopoly abuse, Woolworths supermarkets here in Australia have announced they will no longer honour Visa debit card requests. Ugh.

"A long time ago, we used to be friends…"

I have a Visa debit card with my credit union, it’s been fantastic. I can pay for goods and services online and sign for things in shops but the money comes from my checking account instead of an expensive line of credit that I don’t trust myself to be responsible with. Credit transactions are also free, unlike direct debit EFTPOS (the Aussie equivalent to Singapore’s NETS) which incurs a small charge each time.

What this Woolworths decision means is that when I give them my card to pay for groceries, I won’t be allowed to say credit anymore and I’ll be forced to use EFTPOS. This way Woolworths pawns the cost of the transaction to me. Yeah, gee, thanks guys.

I actually like shopping there

I shop at Woolworths here at Mawson Lakes because they’re walking distance from my house and they have a really good selection of stuff. A lot of the produce comes from here in South Australia which I argue has some of the best food in the country (despite being born a New South Welshman!).

While overall I prefer living in Singapore, supermarkets there are either extremely expensive (Cold Storage charges double digits for small blocks of cheese) or their selection is abysmal (NTUC Fairprice is in many ways a glorified 7-11). You also constantly have to check where food is made, because if it comes from the United States chances are it’ll be laden with partially hydrated corn syrup… YUCKIES! Except for grains from Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon, that stuff is so wholesome and tasty it should be illegal.

That said, this move by Woolworths is kick in the pants of their customers, and what’s worse they know they can get away with it. With most Aussies only having a choice between Woolworths or Coles in shopping centres and whatnot, this kind of blatant exploitation is almost the norm rather than the exception.

Can they do this?

What I want to know is whether this kind of behaviour is legal. I know cash is the only form of legal tender, but if they have signs in their window advertising they take Visa, MasterCard, ChuckPeddle and the like, are they allowed to refuse it just because it’s a debit card? Is it false advertising?

Might be time to send a letter to the Better Business Bureau, assuming they haven’t been inundated with correspondence about this already.

Is there an IGA or Foodland within walking distance of Mawson Lakes?