June 5, 2009
The National Retail Federation (NRF), a retail trade association based in Washington, D.C., welcomed legislation introduced June 4 that would require Visa and MasterCard to negotiate credit card processing fees.
According to NRF, such fees are “hidden” from consumers because they are not disclosed on receipts or credit card statements. The NRF said they cost the average household more than $400 a year.
“Between the momentum built up since this bill passed the Judiciary Committee last year, the intense scrutiny of the financial services industry seen during the current economic crisis, and the credit card reform law signed last month, we think the perfect storm exists for Congress to do something about these unjustified hidden fees,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said in a statement. “In the middle of one of the worst recessions seen in decades, consumers can’t continue to pay artificially inflated prices just so the credit card industry can skim profits off the top. It’s time for these fees to be brought under control.”
H.R. 2695, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), targets the so-called “interchange” fees merchants are charged by lending companies when consumers buy goods with credit cards. The measure, referred to as the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, would allow for merchants to collectively negotiate with banks over the cost of certain credit card fees.
According to NRF, interchange collections totaled $48 billion in 2008, up from $16.6 billion when NRF started tracking the fees in 2001. The higher prices that result from the fees cost the average household an estimated $427 last year, up from $159 in 2001.
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