Peet’s Coffee shops eliminate cash payment


Carolina Cuadros

Guillermina Castellanos purchases a drink at Peet’s Coffee in Belmont using her credit card. “I prefer paying with a contactless credit card, especially during the pandemic because it’s safer; I don’t have to be exposed to the barista,” Castellanos said.

Peet’s Coffee shops in the San Mateo district are no longer accepting cash as a payment form. 

The coffee shops implemented this new rule at the end of March due to the coronavirus pandemic; its purpose was to decrease interactions between customers and employees as a safety measure. Employees promote using the Peet’s Coffee app, Apple Pay, and credit cards as alternate payment forms. However, these alternatives are not accessible to some customers.

Since merely 11% of teenagers have credit cards, and even less have Apple Pay, most have been unable to purchase from Peet’s Coffee over the past few months. Additionally, many adults, especially those from the lower class, do not have access to a bank account. The absence of a bank account not only restricts a customer from accessing a credit card; it also prevents them from using Apple Pay.

After hearing about the change in payment options, sophomore Lauren McCarthey expected the affected stores to lose customers and revenue.

“In the long run, it’s a loss for the seller because they lose sales, and they have to go through all the credit card fees rather than receiving the money directly [through cash],” McCarthy said.

Lisa Jones, a Belmont Peet’s Coffee employee who remained anonymous due to fear of losing her job, noticed that the elimination of cash payment caused a decrease in customers. She also received backlash about the no-cash policy; the complaints reached their peak around April but died down when most customers were used to payment expectations.

Some consider the no-cash policy a form of discrimination towards those who do not own a credit card. However, others voiced their support towards the change, like John O’Sullivan, a parent of a Carlmont student. 

“[Using cash] is a public health concern for the people who work at Peet’s Coffee because of the risk of accepting money that could carry the virus,” O’Sullivan said.

The elimination of cash payment is limited to the San Mateo district; other locations around the Bay Area, such as San Francisco, prohibit stores and shops from having such a policy.

Though the new payment restrictions have inflicted customers, employees have enjoyed its benefits. Jones knew about the negative effect the cash policy has had on others; however, she appreciated how it has improved her job. 

“I feel really bad for those who don’t or can’t use a card, but for the store in general, it makes things easier and quicker, and there’s less contact made with customers,” Jones said. 

Due to the existence of both positive and negative effects of the no-cash policy, is unknown whether these coffee shops will accept cash even after the U.S. lifts coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Jones gave her overall opinion on the decision to eliminate cash payment in Peet’s Coffee shops.

“I don’t think it was the best decision to ban cash; it was a bold move,” Jones said.