NEW YORK – A majority of the 19 named plaintiffs in the Visa/MasterCard antitrust suit expressed their opposition to the deal this morning, hours before the settlement is expected to be filed with the federal court here.
The growing opposition jeopardizes the deal, under which Visa and MasterCard would pay $6 billion, and a handful of banks $1.25 billion to seven million retailers to settle a seven-year-old suit claiming the card networks violated provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act by controlling interchange—so-called swipe fees—on credit cards. The deal must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which will consider the interests of all the plaintiffs.
The named class plaintiffs opposing the landmark deal include: Affiliated Foods Midwest, Coborn's, Inc., D'Agostino Supermarkets, Jetro Holdings, Inc. and Jetro Cash & Carry Enterprises, National Association of Convenience Stores , NATSO, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Grocers Association, and the National Restaurant Association. That means ten of the nineteen named class plaintiffs, a majority, oppose the settlement.
Several other merchants groups have also expressed their opposition in recent weeks, including the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and National Association of College Stores .
Opponents of the settlement will file a brief in opposition to preliminary approval either on November 13, or 30 days after the settlement proposal is filed.
The groups say rather than reforming the practices engaged in by the credit card industry, the settlement will allow the industry to “continue to take advantage of merchants and their customers while blocking competition and choice.”
"The people asking the court to approve the proposed settlement simply do not represent the interests of most merchants, we do," said Hank Armour, president of the convenience store association. "The proposal represents a minority view and must be rejected."
"On behalf of our members and the consumers they serve, we will continue to pursue our rights and fight for reform of the excessive anti-competitive credit card fees and oppressive rules that are being imposed on all merchants," said Peter Larkin, president of the grocers group.