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Senator Arlen Specter Poised to Introduce Legislation That Would Force Consumers to Pay More for Debit, Credit

February 25, 2010

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ — The office of Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) has indicated to Pennsylvania banks that he will be introducing legislation “imminently” that will shift the cost of accepting debit and credit cards onto consumers. The bill, which will mirror legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), will allow merchants to effectively surcharge their customers who choose to pay using debit, credit or charge – a practice that is currently illegal in several states.

“This bill is chock full of mystery and innuendo that all add up to one thing: consumers will pay more so merchants can pay less,” said Frank Pinto, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers. “When retailers accept cards in their stores, they receive profits, customers, guaranteed payment, and a golden key to e-commerce – and they shouldn’t have their customers pay for this cost of doing business.”

“This is an egregious assault on consumer protection,” said Trish Wexler, spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition. “The bill is disguised as a measure to allow for cash discounts – something that is already allowed by federal law and by all card network contracts – but would instead open up the door for bait-and-switch advertising schemes, charging additional checkout fees at the register, and discrimination against certain card holders.”

A November 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office on interchange fees concluded that all of the current policy proposals on the issue – including the proposal that forms the basis of Senator Specter’s legislation – would result in higher prices for consumers.

“Customers of Pennsylvania community banks should not have to pay more so that retailers can profit,” said Daniel C. Berninger, chairman of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association and president & CEO of Muncy Bank and Trust Company, Muncy, PA. “We hope that Senator Specter will reconsider introducing this harmful legislation.”

About Electronic Payments Coalition

The Electronic Payments Coalition is dedicated to protecting consumer value, choice, and competition in electronic payments systems. The coalition is a broad-based group of payment card networks, financial services companies, and financial services trade associations whose primary goal is to educate policy-makers, consumers, and the media about the value of electronic payments systems — including economic growth, convenience, speed, reliability, and security — and to ensure the continued growth of global commerce by promoting consumer choice and the stability of the vast payment networks that connect millions of consumers with millions of retailers each and every day.

SOURCE Electronic Payments Coalition


Source: newswire



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