Another retail group, the National Grocers Association, has come out against the proposed anti-trust settlement between retailers and the major card brands and some major card issuers.
At its heart, the complicated dispute addressed both the rules under which the card brands insisted retailers accept their cards as well as the fees they paid for that acceptance. If approved, the settlement will see $8.25 billion eventually move from the card brands and major card issuers into the coffers of participating retailers as well as give retailers the right to surcharge transactions in which consumers use cards instead of cash or checks.
But several retail associations have advised their members to not agree to the proposed settlement and now one of the largest volume retailers, Walmart, has also come out in opposition.
In a statement which closely tracked Walmart's, the NGA said the settlement allows “Visa and MasterCard to continue their dominant anti-competitive practices. Meanwhile, merchants and consumers will continue to pay exorbitant swipe fees with no hope of reform. NGA’s members are also concerned about Visa and MasterCard’s ability to use their dominance to prevent emerging and innovative lower-cost payment options.”
“The proposed settlement represents a small fraction of the $350 billion in swipe fees the card companies has charged merchants and ultimately consumers for the last seven years. This agreement only ensures that the card companies will continue to fix hidden swipe fees and be able to increase them at will for years to come,” NGA CEO Peter. Larkin added.
Trish Wexler, representing the Electronic Payments Coalition, took the NGA announcement in stride.
“It’s not unexpected that some will express disappointment with a settlement,” Wexler said. “It’s nearly always the case with settlements that you have a compromise that isn’t what anyone hoped for in the beginning. But it’s the best that could be achieved with a lengthy, detailed negotiation process where all sides had to give up something
“It is not rational to suggest that the judge – who has been witness to this intense process – would now suddenly have a change of heart and find the settlement to be unfair or inadequate, simply because a handful of individual organizations want more.”
Wexler also pointed to a recent analysis that indicated the overall settlement is not in danger of being rejected.
“[E]even if the remaining 85 of the largest retailers all opted out, that still would not reach a 25% threshold that would provide the defendants with the choice of dissolving the settlement,” she said.