During the past 2 weeks, merchants across America received the 27 page legal notice regarding the 6+Billion Merchant Discount Antitrust Lawsuit- it was a riveting read!
In this blog- we will hit the high points and make sure you know what actions you need to take.
What was the lawsuit about?
The case centered on allegations that Visa, MasterCard and some of the country's largest banks conspired to unlawfully fix swipe fees for merchants. The case also addressed the long standing regulation that merchants were not permitted to assess a fee to their customers.
How was it settled?
Visa Inc.and MasterCard Inc.agreed to pay retailers $6+ billion to settle a price-fixing lawsuit that alleged they overcharged companies billions of dollars in credit-card transaction fees. As part of the settlement, credit card companies have agreed to reduce swipe fees by 10 basis points for eight months (beginning July 29th, 2013). The temporary reprieve on fees is valued at an additional $1.2 billion. The settlement does not apply to debit cards, which have grown in popularity for small-value transactions. Merchants now have the ability to assess a surcharge if they choose. (Please read our blog on SURCHARGING for guidelines & a list of states that still do not permit surcharging)
Does this have anything to do with ME?
If you processed credit cards between January 1st, 2004 and November 28th, 2012- the settlement DOES apply to you. The verbiage in the settlement states, “consisting of all persons, businesses, or other entities that accepted Visa-Branded Cards and/or MasterCard-Branded Cards in the United States at any time from January 1, 2004 to the Settlement Preliminary Approval Date (November 28, 2012).”
Do I need to take any action?
Yes, you need to decide if you want to accept the terms of the settlement or exclude yourself. If you want to receive a portion of the settlement dollars, you will need to submit a claim. You will not be able to submit a claim until after the Fairness Hearing (scheduled for September of 2013) however you can preregister by clicking on the following link:
Preregistering will insure that you receive notification of claim deadlines as well as the claim form, when it is issued.
What happens if I do nothing?
If you do not file a claim, you cannot get money from this settlement.
If you do not exclude yourself the Cash Settlement Class Settlement Class, you cannot be part of any other lawsuit against Visa/MasterCard and other released parties listed in the Class Settlement Agreement for damages, for past conduct. You will be bound by the Cash Settlement Class Release.
If you do choose to opt out- you will need to send a letter to the address provided below:
Payment Card Interchange Fee Settlement
PO Box 2530
Portland, OR 97208-2530
Your letter must be postmarked by May 28, 2013.
Exclusion Deadline: May 28, 2013
Objection Deadline: May 28, 2013
Fairness Hearing: September 12, 2013, 10:00 a.m.
Claim Filing Deadline: After the September 12, 2013 hearing, a claim form will be submitted to the Court for approval and a claim deadline will then be set.
IN A NUTSHELL: Visa & MasterCard will end up shelling out lots of money to put this lawsuit to rest. If you processed credit cards between January 2004 & November of 2012 you will want to consider preregistering for the ability to file a claim. If you feel like a better lawsuit will come along, you will want to exclude yourself so you have the right to pursue other damages in the future. Because of the settlement, you have increased abilities to add surcharges to your customers. We advise against this action because we all know that added fees do not make anyone happy! Keep our TMC Blog on your ‘Favorites’ tab and we will keep the updates coming!
For a copy of the full settlement please click on this link: https://www.paymentcardsettlement.com/en