ALBANY, N.Y. (FNS) -- Legislation that would have extended existing credit card protections to debit card users was vetoed by New York Gov. George Pataki earlier this month. Although the premise of the bill was sound, its wording was flawed, according to the Food Industry Alliance of New York State here, which opposed the measure.
Among the legislation would have required those issuing or accepting debit card transaction forms to use only carbonless forms or forms that do not use some other type of separate piece of paper. Also, stores accepting debit cards would not be able to require debit card users to write personal identification information, such as addresses and telephone numbers, on the transaction form. This was the section of the legislation the Food Industry Alliance of New York said it objected to.
A problem with the section's wording would hurt retailers, said Michael Rosen, executive director of the Food Industry Alliance. "The way the bill was drafted, it not only added, in essence, 'and debit card' every time the word credit card appeared, but at the end it said the seller may not, on a separate piece of paper, record the credit or debit card holder's name and/or credit card or debit card number," Rosen said.
Because that was a stand-alone sentence and did not refer back to the operative provisions of the bill, it meant retailers could not record the name of a shopper who used a credit or debit card. "Supermarkets have files that recognize who has check cashing or check writing privileges, [members of] frequent shopper programs, or people who have movie rental records. This bill would, in essence, preclude us from recording those names and providing those services."
Rosen said extending the protections of credit card users to debit card users is a good idea. "This was a good statute, [but there] was a drafting problem," he said.
After the Food Industry Alliance wrote Pataki about its concerns, the governor vetoed the bill. "The Food Industry Alliance asserts that such a restriction would put New York State retailers at a distinct competitive and operational disadvantage by inhibiting legitimate and necessary customer relations and product service operations," said Pataki.
The bill would have had national implications, said Rosen. "I think something so far reaching would have been a precedent. The bill has requirements for what a credit card form should look like. It's got to be carbonless, and it can't be separate pieces of paper with superfluous information. Those are probably common provisions, you see the same credit card forms everywhere."
The Food Industry Alliance said it is currently working with the bill's sponsors to rewrite the bill and then reintroduce it during the next legislative session.