Restaurants oppose $7.2 billion credit-card fee settlement

NEW YORK, Tue Sep 25, 2012 – The National Restaurant Association said Tuesday it is joining the opposition to a proposed $7.2 billion settlement between some retailers and Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc. over fees for credit card transactions.

The NRA, which represents the $600 billion U.S. restaurant industry, is the last of six trade groups leading the case to weigh in on the potentially historic settlement.

The trade group’s chief concern is that the settlement would prohibit all merchants that use Visa and MasterCard – whether they decide to opt in or opt out of the settlement – from filing future lawsuits over interchange issues.

“There is strong concern that the proposed settlement agreement will not achieve the litigation’s most critical goal – to fundamentally change a broken marketplace in which swipe fees are set,” NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said in a statement.

NRA’s board of directors unanimously voted to throw the trade group’s weight behind the opposition amassing against the settlement, the group said. While the group has been pushing for reforms that would bring transparency to the interchange system and help lower costs for restaurants, the proposed settlement accomplishes neither, it said.

The antitrust settlement was announced in July and requires the approval of U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York, a process that could stretch well into 2013. If it does receive approval, the settlement would be the largest of its kind in U.S. history, resolving a seven-year-old lawsuit accusing Visa and MasterCard of conspiring with major banks to artificially inflate swipe fees.

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