July 15, 2005
Retailers sue Visa, claiming price fixing
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group of large supermarket and
drugstore chains has sued Visa International and its Visa USA
unit, accusing the credit card association of price fixing,
restricting competition, and keep companies from negotiating
In the lawsuit, filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York, the retailers contended
Visa's restrictions allowed it to extract fees that were
from retailers through "unchallenged market power," the
retailers said. The stakes are significant because consumers
are increasing their reliance on cards, even on small
San Francisco-based Visa did not immediately return calls
Plaintiffs included grocers Albertsons Inc.
Netherlands-based Ahold NV
Walgreen Co. WAG.N>, and Jean Coutu Group Inc.'s
The retailers are seeking an injunction and triple damages
from Jan. 1, 2004 to the present. The 31-page lawsuit does not
name Visa's main rival, MasterCard International, or Visa's
The lawsuit accused Visa of unlawfully setting interchange
fees charged to merchants each time customers use Visa credit
card for purchases, and imposing rules that prevented them from
negotiating lower fees.
Retail merchants pay interchange fees to issuing banks to
receive payments for transactions involving the banks' cards.
The lawsuit said that freed of Visa's restrictions,
retailers could negotiate with individual banks and decide
whether to accept certain cards, or tack on a surcharge for
accepting some cards.
Earlier this week, Visa USA named John Coghlan as its new
chief executive, replacing Carl Pascarella, who is retiring.