Nova Scotia

Cash will no longer be king at Bell Aliant stores come the new year

A Nova Scotia man is unhappy that Bell Aliant won't be accepting cash or cheque payments at its stores beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Company says it won't accept cash or cheque payments because it's streamlining its payment processes

For people looking to pay Bell Aliant by cash after Jan. 1, 2018, they can still do so at their bank, while cheques can be mailed directly to Bell. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

A Nova Scotia man is unhappy that Bell Aliant won't be accepting cash or cheque payments at its stores beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Instead, the company will only accept payment by debit and credit card.

"It's difficult to understand how legal tender is not good for business these days and my concern is for those who perhaps don't have a credit card or a debit card and the inconveniences this will cause them," said Maurice Rees, the publisher of The Shoreline Journal, a monthly paper in Bass River, N.S.

He thinks the changes will impact seniors in particular.

For people looking to pay by cash, they can still do so at their bank, while cheques can be mailed directly to Bell.

Rees doesn't think that's good enough.

"That would pay off your bill, but I still don't think it's fair and it certainly isn't good customer service," he said.

Why Bell is making the change

A Bell spokesperson said the popularity of electronic payments and a "significant decrease" in cash payments is behind the decision. Isabelle Boulet said by email the change will help Bell streamline its payment processes.

Rees said the new measures won't affect him because he makes bill payments online or at his bank, but he's worried about what it will mean for other people.

"How much more do customers have to be told that they can't do it the way that they would prefer and big business is going to do it another way?" he said.

Retailers don't have to accept cash

According to the Bank of Canada's website, while banknotes (bills) are classified as legal tender, a retailer doesn't have to accept them "because both parties must agree on the payment method. The fact that banknotes are legal tender does not mean that there is a legal obligation to accept them."

Is cash still king nationwide?

A Bank of Canada report released last month found that across all types of merchants, 51 per cent of all transactions were conducted in cash in 2015.

That compares with 31 per cent for debit and 19 per cent for credit cards. (The bank cautions that "percentages may not always add up to 100 per cent because of rounding.")

With files from Maritime Noon