The ongoing battle between card schemes and US merchants over interchange fees has escalated, with news that Visa is to sue the nation's largest retailer Wal-Mart over its rejection of a previously negotiated $7.2 billion class action interchange settlement.
The settlement, agreed by law firms acting on behalf of class action plaintiffs in July last year, has since been rejected by a host of top retailers and trade groups, who have counter-sued the card schemes in search of heftier fines and deeper reforms. Nearly 8000 merchants out of a proposed class of 8 million have so far opted out of the preliminary agreement.
Late last month, Visa, MasterCard and several banks filed suit against the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association, Affiliated Foods Midwest Cooperative and D'Agostino Supermarkets Inc.
For Wal-Mart, Visa has reiterated its earlier position that it seeks finality in its dealings with retailers and wants to "prevent the continuation of endless, wasteful litigation".
A Wal-Mart spokesman, Randy Hargrove, told Bloomberg that the chain is still considering whether to pursue its own suit.
"We are disappointed that Visa chose to file this unwarranted and unsupportable lawsuit in retaliation for our decision to opt out and object to an unfair settlement agreement," Hargrove said in a statement. "The proposed settlement would allow credit card companies and big banks to perpetuate a broken system that costs consumers billions of dollars each year."