Trucks debate card payments

Many students prefer using cards to carrying cash. Students come prepared to swipe their plastic at food trucks, but end up getting rejected by truck owners who only take cash. 

This presents a problem for both students and businesses. Customers can’t eat at their favorite spot without an ATM nearby, while truck owners have to wonder if they’ll want to return.

At the Adriatic Grill on the 12th Street Food Pad, credit, debit and Diamond Dollars are all accepted. Owner Adzij Kovevic said he is happy the business is now able to take various types of cards.

“It has a positive impact on our business,” Kovevic said. “We had issues with the credit card companies for a while, [but now] we can take Diamond Dollars, too. It’s different for us at the Food Pad than it is for the trucks.”

The difference Kovevic referred to is that the trucks are considered “mobile units” by the university. Therefore, they are not allowed to take Diamond Dollars. Peter Shin, the new owner of the Burger and Cheese Busz, said he believes accepting Diamond Dollars would greatly benefit the truck. The business accepts credit and debit cards.

“I know that food trucks aren’t allowed to take Diamond Dollars, but most of these trucks stay in the same place every day, so we’re not really mobile,” Shin said. “I’m trying to get in touch with the right people to see if this can be changed.”

New trucks struggle with taking cards in general. Attempting to get their newly acquired businesses off the ground can be hindered by the potentially high transaction fees that cut into their profits, owners said. In addition, purchasing equipment to accept cards can be costly. For Herbert Mena, owner of Temple’s Best Authentic Mexican on Norris Street, cash is the best option.

“I don’t take credit or debit cards because the companies are charging too much, both for me and for the customers,” Mena said. “I do want to see if I could eventually take Diamond Dollars, though.”

Unlke Mena, Debbie Dasani, owner of Samosa Deb’s on Montgomery Avenue, said getting a credit and debit card machine has been a process, but she thinks it will help her business in the long run.

“I haven’t started taking cards yet, but I will be in about four weeks,” Dasani said. “Not taking them hasn’t negatively impacted my business as of yet because only one person has asked me about using one.”

Insomnia Cookies, located on Montgomery Avenue, is part of a bigger company. Even with 35 locations throughout the country, Insomnia Cookies trucks generally do not accept credit or debit cards. Ken Stager, one of the truck’s employees and a junior at the Community College of Philadelphia, said he feels that taking cards is unnecessary.

“Since we’re such a large company, there’s not a big interest in taking cards,” Stager said. “You’d be paying a lot of card fees on a cookie that’s only $1.35. It’s not worth it.”

Some students said they do not carry cash with them for safety reasons. For Hailey Braham, a junior art education major, trucks that don’t take cards can be a deal-breaker.

“If I went to a truck and they didn’t take credit or debit, I would probably go somewhere else,” Braham said. “That, or I’d just make food at home instead.”

Emelia Carmody, a junior media studies and production major, said she would try new things if more trucks were to take credit and debit cards.

Some truck owners said they’ve noticed this tendency in students and hope taking cards will give them a competitive edge. Nam Kim, owner of Wingo Taco at 13th and Norris streets, takes credit and debit cards. But, like his fellow truck owners, he hopes for Diamond Dollar acceptance to be granted to trucks.

“Cards are a great thing for students because they don’t like to carry cash,” Kim said. “But every truck wishes they could take Diamond Dollars. If someone could persuade Temple, we’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Ariane Pepsin can be reached at ariane.pepsin@temple.edu. 

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