All consumers pay more at the store and more at the pump because anti-competitive rules, practices and card acceptance (swipe) fees by credit companies and networks force merchants to raise prices on all consumers, including cash customers. We’ve been involved in Congress and the courts for years, on the side of merchants. You can download U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s friend of the court (amicus) brief filed in the Supreme Court in support of a bi-partisan coalition of state attorneys general challenging American Express anti-steering rules that prevent merchants from advising consumers of alternative, lower-cost payment methods. The case page for Ohio v. American Express is at Scotusblog.com. We were joined by nine other leading groups, including Public Citizen, National Consumer Law Center and Consumers Union. This recent blog explains some of our swipe fee work.
Exxerpt from the brief in this case:
This case concerns virtually every dollar that Americans spend on consumer goods and services. The contractual provisions at issue require that the over- whelming majority of the 6.4 million businesses that accept American Express (“Amex”) credit cards must not promote any other payment method above Amex cards, imply any preference for other payment methods, or attempt to dissuade anyone from using an Amex card. […]
Merchants incur a fee each time a consumer chooses to pay with a credit card. Since consumers make this choice tens of billions of times a year, the fees add up. In 2016 alone, U.S. merchants paid $88.39 billion in fees to credit card companies. Many merchants that accept Amex cards sustain fees in excess of 3 percent of the amount of each credit transaction. Given that the average general retailer in the U.S. operates with a 2.60 percent net margin,12 merchant fees are a highly significant feature of the consumer retail market.