Washington Report: Website Launched to Help Retailers Oppose Proposed Settlement

Merchantsobject.com provides tools for all retailers affected by the proposed Visa and MasterCard settlement to express their opposition by opting out and objecting to the proposal.

ALEXANDRIA, VA – NACS has launched a website to help retailers from all channels express their opposition to the proposed credit card swipe fee settlement.

The site, merchantsobject.com, provides the tools for all retailers affected by the proposed settlement to express their opposition by opting out and objecting to the proposal.

NACS believes the settlement is a bad deal for retailers and announced in January that it will object to and opt out of the proposed settlement.

Approximately 8 million retailers overall received notices about the proposed settlement and they have until May 28, 2013, to opt-out and object to it. NACS created the website to provide a simple-to-use platform for retailers to weigh in against the proposal. If a retailer doesn’t meet that deadline, the court will assume that retailer accepts the proposed settlement in full. Opt-outs and objections can be completed and submitted electronically through the site. Retailer opposition to the proposed settlement will be taken into account when U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Court holds a hearing in September.

The majority of named plaintiffs — including NACS — and approximately 1,200 additional organizations opposed the preliminary approval of the proposed settlement last fall — before a single notice had even been sent. This unprecedented outpouring of opposition is expected to increase now that merchants have received notice. All retailers who accepted Visa and/or MasterCard at any time between January 1, 2004, and November 27, 2012, are affected by the proposal.

NACS is both opting out and objecting to the proposed settlement because it fails to modify the price-fixing and other anti-competitive activities of Visa, MasterCard and their card-issuing banks in order to bring competition to this broken market. While retailers might get a couple of months’ worth of their fees back through the settlement, their swipe fees would likely increase by more than the dollars they would receive before they even receive a single penny from the settlement fund. Worse, the proposed settlement requires class members to release Visa and MasterCard from liability, forever, for any anticompetitive rules currently in place (including the interchange or swipe fee rules) and/or any “substantially similar rules” instituted at any time in the future.

Convenience retailers, including NACS member companies, are not covered by NACS’ objection and opt-out. Retailers must decide for themselves how to respond to the proposed settlement and object and or/opt-out on their own if that is their decision.

"NACS developed the website to allow all retailers, regardless of channel, to make their voices heard,” said NACS President and CEO Hank Armour. “If you do not make your opposition to this bad proposal known, the court will presume that you accept the terms of the settlement.”

In addition to providing retailers with the tools to both opt out and object to the proposal, the site also allows retailers to share their opposition via social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

The named class plaintiffs opposing the proposed settlement of the case, which is known as “In Re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation,” are NACS, Affiliated Foods Midwest, Coborn’s Inc., D’Agostino Supermarkets, Jetro Holdings LLC, NATSO, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), National Grocers Association (NGA) and National Restaurant Association (NRA).