The 15p card charge is the worst thing in the world

It’s not even about the money

cafes card charge gordon's cafe ucl uclu cafes visa visa debit

I clearly remember my first day at UCL, strolling down Eversholt Street with a smile on my face, basking in the September sun.

Will it get better than this? I wondered. Here I am, the big unay experience. Freshers, parties, girls. The world is my oyster. How little I knew of the small inconvenience on campus that would come to define, and some would say ruin, my university experience.

It began when my brand new halls best friend and I had some time to burn before our library tour, so we hit Gordon’s café for the first time and grabbed a San Pellegrino and a Snickers. When I tried to pay, I was politely asked whether I was happy to accept the 15p card charge for transactions under £6. Of course, I obliged, 15p seemed a small price to pay to get some nuts after all. Little did I know, this was the start of my nightmare.

Don’t make me use these guns

Say you buy one thing a day from one of the cafés, you can expect to be told about the card charge almost 500 times over the course of a three year degree. If the constant drone of being reminded you’re losing out on an extra 15p wasn’t driving you nuts already, the fact you’re unwittingly splurging £70 in card charges most definitely will.

But this isn’t the real problem. As someone who attends the fifth best university in the world (apparently), I understand the cafés are cheap, and they’ll lose money if we have to pay on card – so props to them for passing the cost onto us. By every single checkout there is a sign, an ugly, laminated, white sign. These shitty signs do more than just ruin an otherwise agreeable looking checkout, they serve the purpose of informing you about the 15p card charge so the server doesn’t have to. And yet they do… time and time again. It’s eroding my sanity. Even if my memory should magically erase itself, there is no way I can forget there is a charge.

Before the horror set in

Did you know there’s a card charge?

It’s upsetting, and the truth is I don’t carry any change on me. Ever. I don’t carry change because I know if an agreeable combination of 20ps and 50ps built up in my pocket, the endearing jingle they make not only makes me look like a baller, it makes me feel like one too. I’ll blow my 90 odd pence on something I don’t need, like a mayo chicken, or a pointless bet with my mate. My perfect little pennies are safe in the protective plastic of my debit card: free from my untameable and wild appetite for cheap merchandise.

Perhaps this is hypocritical though? I suppose I’m essentially spending my small change on the card charge as it is? For every few purchases in a UCLU café, I could have bought thousands of coins on eight ball pool, made countless bets with my friends – maybe even invested the money and grown a small business to develop into a multi-million pound empire when I graduate.


Me without the card charge lol

I suppose I could’ve done really. Maybe it’s my fault and I should stop whinging. But where do we go from here? There are several options:

1) Build the 15p in to the price and stop charging cards full stop. I feel like this might be a bit controversial and annoy some of the more keen coin collectors.

2) Stop the charge full-stop. This option might annoy those wonderful people at UCLU, perhaps it’s a no too.

3) Stop telling us all about the card charge full-stop. This option is clearly preferable for me, but perhaps it might annoy people who don’t realise. Then they might be threatened with a law suit and UCLU cafés will close, and never again will we be able to enjoy a quiet chicken pesto melt and chai latté.

These aren’t very viable options, and I doubt the uni will take any notice. But if they take away one thing, can they just stop telling us about it every single time? Just let the signs do their job, and keep your mouths shut.