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ARLINGTON, Va. -- The National Grocers Association, based here, together with retailer, wholesaler, and state association members of the trade organization, yesterday filed a class action in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleging that Visa, MasterCard, and a number of major banks are illegally setting credit card interchange fees at supra-competitive levels.
The co-plaintiffs in the suit are Affiliated Foods Midwest; Coborns, Inc.; D'Agostino's Supermarkets, and the Minnesota Grocers Association. The law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP is representing the plaintiffs.
"Soaring interchange fees are devastating the retail industry and increasing costs for all American consumers, regardless of their form of payment," said NGA president and c.e.o. Thomas K. Zaucha in a statement. "In a free market, with low interest rates, fraud down, and transaction volume up, competition would cause interchange fees to decrease. However, interchange fees continue to grow exponentially because there is no competitive market."
Continued Zaucha: "The anticompetitive behaviors of Visa and MasterCard have regrettably forced us to take this drastic step. Our goal is to level the playing field for all retail merchants, including second- and third-tier grocery retailers, and protect consumers from needless cost."
NGA, which represents more than 1,500 grocery retailers and over 60 wholesalers, is a founding member of the Merchants Payments Coalition, a group of supermarkets, restaurants, drug stores, convenience stores, gas stations, hardware stores, and other retail business with the common goal of finding a solution to rapidly rising interchange fees.