Restaurant owners around Turkey were getting prepared to boycott lunch cards, used by approximately 3.5 million employees in the country, claiming that they put restaurant owners in difficult situations due to their high commission fees and a long payout period.
Ramazan Bingöl, head of the All Restaurants, Diners and Suppliers Association (TÜRES), which acted against the cards used in almost 200,000 places in Turkey, said: "If no change in the regulations regarding commission fees and payment periods were made, we would stop accepting these cards at all restaurants. While everyone is supporting each other in these difficult days, these firms must do something too."Claiming that they have discussed the issue with officials from the Economy as well as the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the TÜRES chairman said there were around 10 lunch card brands in Turkey, but 90 percent of the market was controlled by just four brands.
Pointing out that these same brands charge 9-10 percent commission in Turkey, compared to only 2-3 percent in European countries, Bingöl said. Bingöl explained that TL 3 ($0.8) out of a TL 30 check was charged as commission. In addition, the restaurants were previously able to get the payment in return for their service within 15 days. Since the beginning of the year, however, the term of maturity has been increased to 30 days and in some cases even up to 60 days. "We are organizing campaigns so that people can go out on the street and continue their lives. However, the firms that operate in this field should also provide support," Bingöl added.
The lunch card market started in Turkey in 1992 with "meal vouchers." In 1997, the sector shifted from meal checks to a card system. The industry saw rapid growth in the early-2000s.
The card market, in which nearly 10 companies are involved today, was growing at an average of 10 percent per year. Around 60-70 percent of the monthly turnover at restaurants located near workplaces in Istanbul were reportedly obtained from lunch cards.