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Merchants ban together against Visa, MasterCard deal

Retail Editor 3 -- Home Textiles Today, September 21, 2012

Washington  - A group of associations representing merchants large and small across multiple segments this week sent a letter sent to House and Senate leaders arguing against a proposed settlement of the long-standing antitrust lawsuits filed by merchants against Visa, MasterCard and the nation's largest banks.

If ultimately approved in court, the terms of the proposed settlement would apply to all eight million U.S. merchants and any organization that might choose to accept Visa or MasterCard at any point in the future.

"The proposed settlement, which was negotiated by Visa, MasterCard and lawyers purporting to represent the merchant community, is one-sided and preserves the very anticompetitive actions that were the genesis of the lawsuits," said the organizations that signed the letter. "Quite simply, the proposed settlement is a bad deal for merchants and their customers. While the card networks and their representatives have suggested it is a fait accompli, the growing objections from the merchant community foreshadow the fight that lies ahead as Visa and MasterCard attempt to force the terms of the settlement on nearly 8 million merchants."

The letter was signed by the National Association of College Stores, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

These organizations charge the settlement:

  • Entrenches the Visa/MasterCard duopoly;
  • Enables continued centralized price-fixing by Visa and MasterCard;
  • Allows Visa and MasterCard to continue to prevent merchants from seeking better deals and communicating openly with their customers;
  • Forbids merchants from opting out of new rules set forth in the proposal;
  • Gives Visa and MasterCard the ability to keep market forces from working by keeping prices hidden;
  • Limits emerging innovations that could bring meaningful competition to the marketplace, such as mobile payments.

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