Every day, some 2.5 million Italians pay for their lunch with buoni pasto (luncheon vouchers), creating a business that is worth 2.5 billion per year. Since 20 June, when cafs and restaurants in Turin began a boycott of buoni pasto, fellow bar owners and restaurateurs in Rome, Florence, Venice, Padua and other Italian cities have joined them. Even fast-food chain McDonalds is taking part in the embargo. They are upset about the high charges they have to pay when cashing in their vouchers at the issuers. These can be as much as 10-12 per cent of the face value of the coupon. Several owners associations have called for the government to regulate the market better and are refusing to accept the vouchers until improvements are made. Meanwhile, small bars and cafs are worried that the boycott may spill over onto their businesses and turn away customers. One consumer association, Codacons, has already called on consumers to stay away from bars that will not accept its buoni pasto.
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