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O’Brien: Swipe fees take big bite out of my burger business

By Don O'Brien - Special Contributor

I was first bitten by the hamburger bug in 1966 as a high school junior flipping them at my local McDonald’s to earn some summer cash. Then, the fast food franchise business was new, exciting and all about great prices for good food. Now, after more than 40 years in the industry and 30-plus years of franchise ownership, I’m sorry to say that it’s more about bank fees than French fries.

Every time a customer in one of the half-dozen restaurants I operate pays with a credit or debit card, the bank charges a hidden “swipe fee” set by Visa or Mastercard based on the size of the transaction. The swipe doesn’t become any more expensive when a customer orders more food. For decades those fees were barely high enough to register in my profit and loss calculations. In the past few years, however, swipe fees have unjustifiably exploded.

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O’Brien is currently the owner and operator of six Burger King franchises near Beaumont.

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