If you received a notice of a class action lawsuit claiming you may be affected by a payment card settlement, you’re probably wondering if it’s legitimate. It is, but there are some important things to know.
First of all, I’m referring to the lawsuit formally named In Re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation. You may also see it called the Payment Card Interchange Fee Settlement, which should be the return address. It’s a good idea to verify that any paperwork you’ve received matches this information. Unfortunately, there are scams out there that rely on using similar-sounding terms or cases to trick you into thinking you’re responding to a legitimate situation.
The notice you received should say that it’s authorized by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and direct you to the lawsuit website at paymentcardsettlement.com. The website includes up-to-date information on the status of the lawsuit, deadlines for filing claims or objections, and other details you may need.
The booklet you received includes a lot of information, but I’ll summarize important points and then address a key problem: Even after this settlement, you’re paying too much for credit card processing.
- What is the Payment Card Settlement?
- Why were Visa and Mastercard sued?
- Who is eligible to get money from the settlement?
- I took Visa and Mastercard at my business – How much will I get?
- Bottom Line: You’re Still Paying Too Much for Credit Card Processing
What is the Payment Card Settlement?
The settlement is the result of a class action lawsuit against Visa and Mastercard. Under its terms, Visa and Mastercard will pay between $5.54 and $6.24 billion dollars to businesses that accepted Visa and Mastercard between 2004 and 2019.
By settling, the lawsuit will not go to trial. Instead, all parties agree to Visa and Mastercard paying the amounts listed above to affected businesses. The Court will weigh in on whether the settlement is fair and reasonable.
Why were Visa and Mastercard sued?
Visa and Mastercard were sued for allegedly violating antitrust laws. That is, they were accused of putting rules into place that would prevent competition or incentive to lower interchange rates.
The lawsuit claims that if Visa and Mastercard had not engaged in that behavior, businesses would have paid lower interchange fees.
Who is eligible to get money from the settlement?
Business owners that accepted Visa and/or Mastercard at any point between 2004 and 2019 are eligible to file a claim.
You must file a claim in order to receive money from the settlement. If you do not file a claim, you will not receive any money from this settlement even if you accepted Visa and Mastercard during the time period noted above.
I took Visa and Mastercard at my business – How much will I get?
The exact amount depends on how much you paid in interchange fees during the time period, and how many eligible claims there are. Unfortunately, in large class action suits such as this one, the final amount an individual person receives is often quite low.
However, there’s no harm in making a claim unless you wish to pursue your own legal action. In that case, you would need to consult a licensed attorney. Pursuing your own legal action is often cost-prohibitive, and typically pursued by large companies that were affected.
Do I need a lawyer to make a claim?
No. You’re able to make the payment card settlement claim yourself by filling out appropriate forms. Some lawyers and business consultants offer to handle claims paperwork on a business owners’ behalf, but keep in mind that they often do so in exchange for a portion of your class action settlement proceeds.
The settlement website contains the information you need to file a claim.
When will the settlement be final?
The Court has scheduled a Fairness Hearing for November 7, 2019. (Date subject to change.)
The Fairness Hearing is, as the name implies, a chance for the Court to get information on whether the settlement is fair. At that time, the Court will consider objections to the settlement and listen to any class members who have requested to speak / appear at the hearing.
Note that the Court does not have to make a decision on the day of the hearing, so it can take longer for a settlement to be finalized.
Bottom Line: You’re Still Paying Too Much for Credit Card Processing
Even after this settlement, many businesses will still overpay for credit card processing. That’s because there are multiple fees that make up the final cost, and most businesses aren’t sure where they can save.
How to Lower Your Costs
Let the lawyers argue about interchange fees. Until and unless they come to an agreement to lower those fees, there’s nothing you can do about them. Instead, focus on the fees you CAN lower: your processor’s markup.
The markup includes any of the fees tacked on after interchange – monthly fees, statement fees, batch fees, PCI compliance fees. The lower you can get those fees, the less you’ll pay overall. And – unlike interchange – those fees are in your processor’s control. Focus your negotiation efforts on processor’s markup, or join a wholesale processing club to have experts do it for you.
Wholesale Processing Membership
CardFellow offers a free membership for business owners that want lower processing fees, but don’t want to waste their time with hidden fees and expensive solutions. Our independent experts have negotiated optimal pricing models and terms for our members, resulting in lower-than-market costs with no cancellation fees, lifetime rate-increase protection, and CardFellow’s complimentary statement monitoring.
By becoming a member, you’ll have instant access to fully-disclosed quotes (no hidden fees!) from leading processors, but at better rates. It’s strength in numbers – our large client base helps us get better deals for our members, and we make it formal through contracts with the processors.
Same processors, lower pricing, better terms. Become a CardFellow member today!