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    Retail Coalition Bows Web Site on Interchange Fees; Senate Hearing Set for Tomorrow

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Food Marketing Institute's efforts to educate Capitol Hill and others about the rising cost of interchange fees is heating up. The Merchants Payment Coalition, of which FMI is a leading member, has launched a Web site about the issue at www.unfaircreditcardfees.com.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Food Marketing Institute's efforts to educate Capitol Hill and others about the rising cost of interchange fees is heating up. The Merchants Payment Coalition, of which FMI is a leading member, has launched a Web site about the issue at www.unfaircreditcardfees.com.

    Meanwhile, a full judiciary committee hearing to investigate antitrust concerns of interchange fees has been rescheduled for tomorrow. The original hearing was slated for mid-June.

    Representatives of the Merchants Payment Coalition will be joined by several retailers testifying at the meeting, FMI's director of editorial services Bill Greer told Progressive Grocer. They include Bill Douglas, c.e.o. of Douglas Distributing in Sherman, Texas; and Kathy Miller, owner of the Elmore Store in Elmore, Vt. Miller is testifying on behalf of the Vermont Grocers Association about the "devastating cost" of these fees to smaller retailers, said Greer.

    General counsel from Visa and MasterCard will also testify at the meeting.

    Interchange fees are assessed on every credit and debit card transaction, averaging close to 2 percent. Retailers are forced to build them into the cost of all transactions, according to FMI, because card company rules prohibit surcharges on plastic payments and effectively prevent retailers from offering discounts to consumers who pay by cash or check.

    As a leading member of the Merchants Payments Coalition, FMI is seeking transparent, cost-based interchange fees in the U.S. The coalition is composed of 20 trade associations representing 2.7 million retail stores and 50 million employees.

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