In spite of what this sign at an Indiana retailer said, there is no $10 surcharge for using mobile payment apps like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay to make a purchase. But the fact that someone at this store believed this to be the case is a good example of how myths and misinformation can affect consumers.
Consumerist reader Tim spotted the following sign at the checkout counter of his local Five Below, a discount store targeted at kids and teens with an inventory of products priced $5 or less — like an inflation-updated dollar store.
“When I went to pay with my iPhone using Apple Pay the cashier pointed out the attached sign taped to the counter that indicated there was a $10 surcharge to use your phone to pay,” Tim told us. “When I asked why she said, ‘We don’t know.'”
The cashier suggested that maybe the store’s manager might know why, but rather than try to play retail detective, Tim brought this mystery to Consumerist. He even had his own hypothesis about why the sign existed: To discourage customers from paying with newfangled methods, even though the store has the equipment to accept them.
We’d never heard of stores adding on surcharges for using Apple Pay or anything similar, and a $10 surcharge for purchases at a store where literally nothing even costs $10 seemed particularly circumspect.
Did the store mean there was a $10 minimum on these purchases? That wouldn’t be so uncommon, though such minimum requirements are usually applied to all credit card purchases and not just those made through Apple/Samsung Pay.
After checking with Five Below, we learned that the explanation for the sign was odder than we’d expected; it wasn’t merely a misstatement of policy, it was apparently the result of an old-fashioned game of “telephone,” where facts get lost as people try to communicate something they heard to others.
A Five Below corporate representative explained to Consumerist that the sign came about after a customer told an employee at this particular store that using Apple and Samsung Pay somehow triggers a $10 surcharge on any purchase.
“Five Below does not charge any fees related to credit card or Apple Pay and Samsung Pay transactions,” explains the company rep, saying that the employee “erroneously believed that Samsung and Apple charged an additional fee directly to the consumer for purchases made via Samsung and Apple Pay, and the associate created a sign to alert customers.”
It’s not clear where this customer got that information. It’s also possible the customer told the worker something different and less inaccurate, but was misunderstood.
Regardless of the source, a Five Below employee took it upon themselves to craft the handwritten sign, thinking they were helping customers by giving them a heads-up.
That meshes with Tim’s version of events, telling us that, “The cashier did seem to genuinely be looking out for me as she stopped me before I could make the payment.”
The company rep says the sign was removed as soon as Five Below HQ learned about it.
“We are not aware that any additional fees were charged to customers by Apple or Samsung, and we apologize for any confusion the sign may have caused,” the company tells Consumerist.
The sign is now down, no longer spreading the myth of the $10 Apple Pay surcharge, but we’re still left trying to figure out exactly where the original customer got the idea that this surcharge exists.
Have you heard tales about Apple Pay or Samsung Pay that you either know are false or aren’t sure if they’re true? Have you heard another retail myth that you’d like Consumerist to clear up? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.