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    Sen. Arlen Specter Takes Interchange Fee Issue to the Aisles of Giant Food Unit

    CARLISLE, Pa. -- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.),ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, visited a Giant Food supermarket in Camp Hill, Pa. yesterday, where he talked with customers and company c.e.o. Carl Schlicker about the effect of credit card interchange fees, which are charged to retailers every time a customer uses a credit or debit card.

    CARLISLE, Pa. -- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.),ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, visited a Giant Food supermarket in Camp Hill, Pa. yesterday, where he talked with customers and company c.e.o. Carl Schlicker about the effect of credit card interchange fees, which are charged to retailers every time a customer uses a credit or debit card.

    The U.S. lawmaker's visit took place from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Giant-Carlisle spokeswoman Tracy Pawelski told Progressive Grocer.

    "Unfettered increases by the credit card companies continue to raise the cost of doing business and must stop," noted Schlicker, who met with Specter at the store.

    "We may need to modify our antitrust laws to stop the credit card companies from engaging in collusive or conspiratorial activities to gouge and jack up the prices," Specter was quoted as saying in a report by a local ABC affiliate.

    Interchange fees are assessed on every credit and signature debit card transaction, averaging nearly 2 percent. Last year Specter held a hearing on interchange fees and found what he termed a "disturbing pattern of anticompetitive conduct by credit card companies."

    "We appreciate Sen. Specter's leadership investigating these fees and learning about their impact where they hit consumers directly: at the checkout lane in retail stores," said FMI president and c.e.o. Tim Hammonds in a statement. "His visit today shows he is serious about resolving these issues.

    Interchange fees came to $30.7 billion in 2005, up more than 17 percent from 2004 and up 85 percent from 2001, according to FMI.

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