The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have asked an appeals court to overturn a federal judge’s approval of a lawsuit settlement regarding Visa and MasterCard’s credit card swipe fees, saying it was negotiated by only a handful of merchants and would do nothing to bring the fees under control.
Both organizations filed notices of appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York earlier this year, and followed up with a joint brief asking the court to overturn a December 13, 2013, ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson. The district court approved the antitrust settlement even though NRF, RILA and other opponents argued for more than a year that it failed to reform a price-fixing system under which Visa and MasterCard set fees for credit cards issued by thousands of banks. Rather than lower the fees, the card companies proposed in the settlement that they be passed along to consumers as a surcharge. Major retailers rejected the surcharge proposal, saying it was the opposite of what they had sought.
“The truth is that there is no settlement with the retail industry, only an agreement with a handful of merchants who do not represent the industry as a whole,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Given that the judge knew this backroom deal was opposed by a broad range of small and large retailers alike and allows these fees to continue to skyrocket, it clearly should never have been approved. This is a serious mistake the appellate court needs to correct.”