retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The National Grocers Association (NGA) said yesterday that its Board of Directors has voted unanimously to oppose "the proposed interchange fee settlement agreement in the antitrust litigation by merchants against Visa, MasterCard, and their member banks.  NGA is a named plaintiff and class representative in the lawsuit In Re Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation."

In doing so, NGA is siding with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Walmart, and Target, all of which have stated their opposition to the terms of the proposed settlement.

According to NGA, "The proposed settlement agreement terms would curtail the opportunity for merchants to reform the monopolistic fees and rules set by Visa, MasterCard, and their banks by requiring merchants to broadly waive their rights to take future action against the card companies.  While the proposed agreement does provide merchants with the ability to pass along some costs of accepting cards, it only does so under almost ten pages of burdensome restrictions imposed and enforced by Visa and MasterCard, making it unlikely that many of NGA's members will be able to make this provision workable. 
 
"In addition, the provision for cost of acceptance charges does little-to-nothing for grocers who are keenly sensitive to the backlash consumers exhibited to bank fees, and how consumer reactions could particularly affect the ultra-competitive supermarket industry."

"NGA joined the lawsuit on behalf of its independent retail grocer members over seven years ago to bring about real reform of the anticompetitive credit card swipe fee system.  This proposed settlement agreement fails in this regard by allowing Visa and MasterCard to continue their dominant anticompetitive practices," said NGA President/CEO Peter Larkin.  "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."
KC's View:
I could be totally wrong about this, but I have a feeling that this settlement is a dead issue. The opposition forces are coalescing, and I think they are making a persuasive argument.