Paying cash for that iPhone? Not any more.
Apparently not when the item being tendered is an Apple iPhone. It seems Apple is trying to cut down on unlocking and bricking, practices which, when employed together, allow the phone to be used more or less permanently with carriers other than AT&T, the firm with the exclusive (restrictive) distribution deal for the vaunted device. AT&T requires a two-year commitment just to purchase the iPhone, and unlocking/bricking lets customers out of that deal. So Apple has upped the ante on iPhone purchasers by making sure that they know each customer's identity.
Apple estimates that about 250,000 iPhone have been sold to non-AT&T customers. This means people are either unlocking them and then activating them personally on other carriers, or they're simply selling the unlocked units to folks who want to use them on another carrier. Apple is claiming 4.5 million bucks in lost revenue as a result of unlocking. Of course, we don't think the majority of iPhone purchasers were using cash to begin with, so the likelihood of this debit/credit thing having a negative impact on legitimate iPhone sales is pretty slim. Still, one wonders if there's a precedent for retailers not accepting cash for a sale. Don't think we've heard of that one before.