Retailers pile pressure on Visa/MasterCard in class action debit case

Retailers pile pressure on Visa/MasterCard in class action debit case

More than 7.5 million US merchants are to begin receiving class notices this week in a major anti-trust litigation lawsuit filed against Visa and MasterCard.

The suit, filed by a group of powerful US retailers, is to be heard on 28 April in a New York district court. The retailers' case centres on a requirement by Visa and MasterCard that vendors which accept their credit cards must also accept their debit cards and pay what they deem are unfairly high fees on debit transactions.

"The merchants are seeking an injunction to stop Visa and MasterCard's anticompetitive conduct," says Lloyd Constantine, lead counsel for the merchants and a principal in the New York firm of Constantine & Partners. "They also are seeking damages to compensate merchants for being forced to accept more than $1 trillion in slow, fraud-prone, inferior offline signature debit transactions at anticompetitively high and fixed prices during the last decade."

If the retailers win the class action case, damages from the four million claims would be trebled under federal law and could reach as high as $100 billion.

Constantine says many of the key legal issues in the merchants' case have already been decided against Visa and MasterCard in another antitrust case, which was won by the US government in October of 2001.

Comments: (0)