BENGALURU: Petrol pumps across India will stop accepting debit and credit cards from Monday to protest what the petroleum dealers call an “irrational and sudden” move by banks to charge 1% transaction fee on every payment accepted by card.
The banks’ move will not target the citizens directly as no new charges will be levied on customers using cards.
But if petrol stations continue with cash-only operations, it will certainly inconvenience lakhs of vehicle owners given the paucity of cash in the system.
The non-acceptance of credit/debit cards at petrol stations comes at a time when the Centre is pushing for increased non-cash transactions, and close on the heels of its announcement of a 0.75% cashback offer on purchase of petrol using cards.
Speaking to reporters , BR Ravindranath, president, Akhila Karnataka Federation of Petroleum Traders and Bangalore Petroleum Dealers Association, said: “They (banks) must apologise to the public.”
Stating that the profit of all petroleum dealers are determined by the oil marketing companies (OMCs), which have fixed the net profit at 0.3% to 0.5%, Ravindranath said: “If the banks straight away levy a 1% transaction fee, where do they expect us to go. It becomes extremely difficult to survive in such circumstances.
A manager at a petrol station said: “The public will see us as the villains now. They will think we are inconveniencing them by demanding only cash, but the truth is not that. Sale of petrol/diesel is highly regulated and we cannot fix our own rates in view of this sudden levy by banks. So our best option is to not accept cards.”
On whether punishing people is the right attitude, Ravindranath said: “We do not have control over how much profit is fixed for us, or at how much we can sell petrol at. When the OMCs fix all of that, they are now washing their hands of this problem. When we contacted George Paul (the person co-ordinating on behalf of OMCs), he says it is between us and the banks and that we should sort it out.”
Stating that the decision has been taken unanimously by all petroleum dealers in the country, Ravindranath said there is no question on going back on this. “This is not a protest to withdraw, it is a question of our survival and we cannot just function like this. It will be all cash until banks withdraw the transaction charge.”