WASHINGTON – A federal judge yesterday dismissed a price-fixing suit against Visa and MasterCard brought by the National ATM Council, a group of independent ATM operators.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the plaintiffs failed to present enough facts to show they were injured, or that there was an actual agreement or conspiracy to charge excessive fees. “Plaintiffs have not set forth sufficient facts to support their claim that there was a horizontal conspiracy,” Jackson wrote in her opinion. “Notably absent from each of the complaints are facts showing the existence of an agreement, the essential element of any conspiracy.”

The suit claimed Visa and MasterCard forced independent ATM operators to charge consumers the same fee all the time, even when their cards can access smaller networks that are cheaper for the ATM operators to use. If ATM operators could charge those customers lower fees, the suit alleged consumers would start asking their banks for cards equipped to use the cheaper networks.

 

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