Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation (NRF) on Wednesday said it welcomed a ruling by the European Commission (EC) that hidden fees currently charged by MasterCard to process credit-card transactions in Europe drive up costs for consumers in violation of EC rules and must be withdrawn within six months. The NRF likened the situation in Europe to that in the United States, where it said that hidden charge-card fees cost U.S. shoppers $40 billion annually.
“European authorities say MasterCard is double-dipping in Europe, and that’s exactly what we think both MasterCard and Visa are doing here in the U.S.,” NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Visa and MasterCard are charging billions of dollars directly to consumers for all the fees that show up on their monthly statements, then they turn around and charge billions more from the hidden credit-card fees they force merchants to include in the price of merchandise.”
“These fees drive up the cost of merchandise for shoppers while delivering little if any benefit commensurate with the billions charged,” Duncan added.
“It’s time for this to stop, and authorities here in the United States should take the European ruling as a signal that it’s time to bring the same relief to U.S. consumers.”
The European Commission ruled today that so-called “interchange” fees charged by MasterCard and its banks violate EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices and “inflated the cost of card acceptance by retailers without leading to proven efficiencies.” The commission ordered MasterCard to withdraw the fees within six months or face fines equivalent to 3.5% of global revenues.