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    Senate Committee to Mull Antitrust Concerns over Interchange Fees

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) commended Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) yesterday for scheduling a full Judiciary Committee hearing to investigate antitrust concerns of interchange fees.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) commended Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) yesterday for scheduling a full Judiciary Committee hearing to investigate antitrust concerns of interchange fees.

    "The public has a right to know they are paying hidden interchange fees on virtually every transaction -- fees that are anti-competitive and fixed in secret by Visa, MasterCard, and the banks that issue their credit cards," said FMI president and c.e.o. Tim Hammonds in a statement.

    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.

    The hearing, titled "Credit Card Interchange Rates: Antitrust Concerns?" is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on June 28, in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

    Progressive Grocer's May 1 cover story, "The Tipping Point," took an in-depth look at the issue of interchange fees and their impact on retailers.

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