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The board of the National Grocers Association (NGA) has voted unanimously for the organization to opt out and object to a proposed settlement of a long-running interchange fee and merchant discount antitrust class action, and has recommended that its members do the same. The vote took place Feb. 10.
“The NGA board carefully considered not only what is in the best interests of the retailers and wholesalers it serves, but also all other merchants who will be adversely affected by the proposed settlement,” noted Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based association. “It is clear to NGA that by deciding to opt out and object to the proposed settlement, it sends a clear and unequivocal message that the proposed settlement should be rejected at the fairness hearing on Sept. 12, 2013.”
NGA opposes the proposed settlement because “it does not achieve the fundamental objective of restructuring and reforming anticompetitive credit-card swipe fees and payment rules, and will only make matters worse for consumers and merchants,” the organization said, adding that the settlement “is unfair because it violates due process. It is inadequate and unreasonable because of the illusory nature of the relief and overly broad reach of the release from future antitrust violations.”
Other critics of the proposed settlement include the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
Seven and a half years ago, NGA became a plaintiff in a class action payment card interchange fee and merchant discount antitrust litigation on behalf of its retail and wholesale grocers. NGA was joined in the litigation by three of its independent grocer members, Coborn’s Inc., D’Agostino Supermarkets and Affiliated Foods Midwest, along with Jetro Holdings Inc., Jetro Cash & Carry Enterprises and five other national trade associations, among them NACS and NCGA.