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Swiped: Banks, Merchants And Why Washington Doesn’t Work for You

WASHINGTON — Charlie Chung runs Cups & Co., a coffee and sandwich shop in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. Known on Capitol Hill simply as “Cups,” the shop — a rickety 20-second train ride away from the elevator to t…

WASHINGTON — Charlie Chung runs Cups & Co., a coffee and sandwich shop in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. Known on Capitol Hill simply as “Cups,” the shop — a rickety 20-second train ride away from the elevator to the Senate floor — is always swarmed with lobbyists, staffers and the occasional senator.

If customers flash an American Express card to buy a banana, Chung waves them off: “Just take the banana. Don’t give me the card.”

Chung has run Cups for about a decade and says that plastic has allowed him to better serve a hurried and harried clientele. But Chung is still routinely frustrated with the card networks — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — that dictate the fees storeowners like himself must pay to process credit and debit card transactions. Why charge for a banana when card fees make it a losing proposition?

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