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In anticipation of a hearing being held today by the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Task Force, Tom Zaucha, president and c.e.o. of the National Grocers Association (N.G.A.), yesterday sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives, urging them to co-sponsor and vote in support of H.R. 5546, or the "Credit Card Fair Fee Act."
The introduction of H.R. 5546 follows almost three years of Congressional hearings and efforts by NGA and other groups in the Merchants Payment Coalition to educate members of Congress on what they claim is an unfair and anti-competitive credit card interchange fee system.
NGA also submitted statements to the House Energy Commerce Subcommittee in February 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2006, and the House Judiciary Antitrust Task Force in July 2007, supporting Congressional investigation and action by governmental agencies to correct interchange fee practices.
"This is an important step and shows that members of Congress recognize the importance of this issue for American Consumers," said Zaucha. "Chairman Conyers and all the 29 bi-partisan co-sponsors are to be commended for their leadership in developing a market based solution for Congress to enact. It will provide a more competitive and transparent credit card fee system that better serves American consumers, ultimately by reducing fees."
Mike Jackson, NGA chairman of the board and president and c.o.o. of Supervalu, Inc., added, "Whether you are a small or large retailer, today's credit and debit card interchange fee system is a broken one that is discriminatory and lacks transparency. Retailers of all size support a market-based solution that would give merchants a seat at the table to negotiate fair fees for the benefit all consumers."
The legislation aims to restore competition to the credit card system and provide merchants with the opportunity to negotiate fair credit card interchange fees with Visa and MasterCard. The credit card interchange fee is a percentage of each transaction that Visa and their member banks, and MasterCard and their member banks, set in secret to charge retailers every time a credit or debit card is used to pay for a purchase. H.R. 5546 permits retailers to join together and to negotiate for more fair and lower cost-based interchange fees, to end abusive rules, and to eliminate discrimination among retailers.