7-Eleven Sues Visa, MasterCard Over Swipe Fees

Card companies "acquired substantial market power over merchants," forcing them to pay higher fees

Published in CSP Daily News

NEW YORK -- 7-Eleven Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have sued Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. over card fees after rejecting a multibillion-dollar settlement in an antitrust case, according to a Bloomberg report.

The retailers and about 30 others filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday against the card companies and several major banks. The companies are among more than 7,000 that have dropped out of the $7.25 billion accord over the interchange or "swipe" fees, which are borne by merchants when customers use credit cards.

"Once Visa and MasterCard acquired substantial market power over merchants, they maintained it by forcing merchants to pay even higher interchange fees to continue to fund these price-fixing schemes," the retailers said in the complaint cited by the news agency.

The settlement, under consideration by a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., would put to rest about eight years of litigation in the nationwide suit. Dozens of retailers have said they are opposed to the accord because it would give Visa and MasterCard too much freedom to raise rates in the future.

"These same tired arguments were already raised repeatedly over the course of the litigation," Trish Wexler, a spokesperson for the Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents card companies and banks, said in a statement cited by Bloomberg. "Had these arguments had any merit or strength, they would have been included in the final settlement."

Other retailers that dropped out of the settlement have also filed their own lawsuits, including CVS Pharmacy Inc. and a group led by Target Corp. and Macy's Inc.

Visa sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this month over concerns that the world's largest retailer would also file a separate swipe-fee complaint. The payment network said in a complaint that it wanted to prevent "the continuation of endless, wasteful litigation."

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises or licenses more than 10,100 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven has more than 50,700 stores in 16 countries. During 2012, 7-Eleven stores generated total worldwide sales close to $84.8 billion.

The case is 7-Eleven Inc. v. Visa Inc., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).