Swipe Fee Settlement Recommendation Forthcoming

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ABA bookstore members should expect to receive, or have already received, a  settlement notice as part of the proposed class-action settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit over rapidly rising Visa and MasterCard credit card swipe fees. The American Booksellers Association is encouraging members to hold off making any decision on filing the swipe fee settlement notice until the association issues a recommendation.

The settlement notice offers merchants several options: to file a claim for monetary damages (equal to approximately two months’ worth of interchange fees); to opt out of the settlement; to object to the settlement; or to opt out and object to the settlement. The deadline to file is May 28, 2013.

ABA is working with a coalition of trade associations and businesses to gather information to determine the best course of action for members and expects to provide more details within the next few weeks. Since filings are not due until May 28, ABA recommends that booksellers wait to make a decision until the additional information is available.

U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson granted preliminary approval of the settlement in late November, and rule changes brought about by the settlement went into effect at the end of January.

According to the settlement notice, as of January 27, the settlement requires Visa and MasterCard to allow merchants to do the following:

  • Charge customers an extra fee if they pay with Visa or MasterCard credit cards
  • Offer discounts to customers who pay with payment forms less expensive than Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards
  • Accept Visa or MasterCard cards at fewer than all of the merchant’s trade names or banners
  • Form “buying groups” that meet certain criteria to negotiate with Visa and MasterCard

Booksellers with questions about the settlement should contact ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7562, or via e-mail at dave@bookweb.org.