Free cash at one Northwest grocery chain is going the way of gratis gas station tire air.
Portland-based Fred Meyer has begun tacking on a surcharge to customers seeking cash back when paying for groceries and other items with a debit card.
“Fred Meyer makes life easier for our customers by providing a quicker and more convenient way for shoppers to withdraw cash from their bank account,” company spokesman Jeffery Temple told the Idaho Statesman by email. “Our customers can receive up to $300 through the PIN-pad cashback process at the checkstand anytime they use their debit card in our stores.”
Fred Meyer has been collecting the fee at its Portland area stores. Customers pay 50 cents to obtain up to $100 in cash and $3.50 for amounts up to $300.
On Wednesday morning, the Fred Meyer store at Franklin and Orchard streets in Boise began collecting the surcharge. Small signs announcing the surcharge — “Let us save you a trip to the ATM!!!” — were posted at the store’s check-out stands.
Some Fred Meyer customers who have encountered the charge in Oregon said in Twitter posts that they may consider shopping at another grocer.
Other major grocery chains, including Albertsons, WinCo and Walmart, have not added cash-back surcharges.
“We don’t charge a fee on a debit card transaction when a customer requests cash back, and we don’t have plans to do so,” Albertsons spokeswoman Chris Wilcox wrote in an email.
Kroger, Fred Meyer’s parent company, based in Cincinnati, began adding a cash-back surcharge at its stores over the summer. In a Twitter reply to a Michigan customer who complained about the charge, Kroger said it hoped she understood.
“We have a fee due to banks & other retailers raising ATM fees & limiting the amount of cash back,” Kroger replied. “We want to offer our customers a convenient, low cost, way to get their money. We hope you understand!”
Temple said he expects the change to come to all seven Fred Meyer stores in Idaho’s Treasure Valley this week.
“It’s rolling out across stores, so I don’t know when it hits specific locations,” he said.