Card Interchange Settlement on the Ropes
The National Retail Federation announced last week that it will formally oppose the final settlement of litigation between retailers, Visa and MasterCard and a number of the largest card issuers.
The retail group, which had not been part of the original litigation, had been criticizing the settlement for months.
“The proposed settlement does nothing to bring swipe fees under control and would give Visa and MasterCard a legal blessing to continue their abuse of merchants and consumers indefinitely,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said.
“No settlement at all would be better than this one-sided ‘agreement’ written by the card companies for the card companies that would tie retailers’ hands for decades to come.” Duncan said in the federation’s announcement.
The trade group argued that the agreement does not change the way card interchange is set nor introduce greater transparency into the process. It also argued that the proposed remedy of surcharging consumers for their card use in order to cover the costs of processing cards is so impractical as to be nearly impossible in the currently very competitive retail environment.
NRF recognized that retailers who participate in the agreement will share in $7.25 billion put up by the card brands and card issuers, but noted that this “amounts to less than three months’ worth of swipe fee charges, and the small retailers hit hardest by the fees would give up their rights for as little as a few hundred dollars.”
The suit was brought in 2005 by 19 trade associations and individual retail companies.