In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders last week, NACS and a group of associations representing retailers of all sizes across all segments of the merchant community highlighted the reasons behind the growing opposition to a proposed settlement of a long-standing antitrust lawsuit 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 as well as 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. Quite simply, the proposed settlement is a bad deal for merchants and their customers,” wrote the organizations.
Among the many reasons cited for their objections is that the settlement:
- Entrenches the Visa/MasterCard duopoly
- Enables continued centralized price-fixing by Visa and MasterCard
- Allows Visa and MasterCard to continue to handcuff merchants and prevent them from seeking better deals and communicating openly with their customers
- Forbids merchants from opting out of restrictive new rules set forth in the proposal
- Gives Visa and MasterCard the ability to keep market forces from working by keeping prices hidden
- Makes all current and future merchants – even those that are not yet in existence – forever surrender their legal rights
- Limits emerging innovations that can bring meaningful competition to the marketplace, such as mobile payments
NACS, National Association of College Stores, National Association of Truck Stop Owners, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Grocers Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America all signed the letter.
“Given the important oversight role of Congress and your continued interest in this important issue, we write today to urge you to reject the false claims from the card networks and their representatives. The proposed settlement does nothing to resolve the failures in the electronic payment market, and continued congressional involvement in these issues is imperative. We look forward to keeping you fully informed as the legal process moves forward and the chorus of objections grows,” the letter concluded. A copy of the coalition’s letter in its entirety can be accessed by clicking here. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)