Taxi driver pleased with his credit card machine

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela Jorge Figueroa can ask 'Cash or charge?'

Jorge Figueroa has worked as a cab driver for 30 years. He is a pioneer for cabs with credit card machines. And for the past six months he has had no regrets about the datafono in his taxi.

He is representative of the few who are slowly transitioning into the modern time of plastic over paper. Although there is no law in Costa Rica that states a credit card charging machine is mandatory. Figueroa said it is vital for cab drivers to have one installed.

“It’s a business, and sometimes you just have to do certain things,” said Figueroa.

But not every cab driver thinks like he does. Many drivers have said that the datafono is bad for business. They even called the machine anti-commercial.

Part of the negativity toward the machine is the misconception that some taxi drivers have. Many believe the driver loses a certain unacceptable percent from the sale every time someone pays with their credit card. Or they believe that a person who sees a cab with the credit card stickers on the window thinks the driver will not accept cash. Cabs that offer the option to pay with the credit machine have a small vertical line of stickers of the accepted credit cards posted on the back passenger side window. According to cab drivers, that is the only insignia for a potential passenger to know if the driver accepts credit cards.

But according to Figueroa, those misconceptions are just that.

He said it was simple. Credomatic approached the cooperation and offered the opportunity to get a machine to charge credit cards. Credomatic is the only firm that offers the credit card processing machine for cab drivers. There was no cost for the machine or the installation. Figueroa said there is a monthly fee of 7,500 colons that Credomatic takes from his bank account.

The credit card charge from the cab drive goes directly into his bank account. And Credomatic doesn’t take anything he makes except for the monthly fee.

Figueroa said the only bad thing about the datafono is that if a driver doesn’t have enough customers to use it, then the monthly fee is wasted. But he said in his six months experience, he’s had an average of 15 people a month that pay with a credit card. For him, he said the charges pay itself and then he pockets the rest. The smallest amount he’s charged on a credit machine in his cab was for 1,500 colons, about $3. But he said most of the time the fees are a lot higher and worth the charge.

He said with his experience it’s mostly Ticos who pay with credit cards. Most tourists carry cash, he said.

The Dirección General de Tributación, Costa Rica’s tax collector, likes the idea of credit card machines, too, because passengers get a valid receipt and drivers cannot avoid listing a card transaction as income.

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