Judge: Interchange Settlement Opponents Disseminating ‘Bad Information’

April 15, 2013

Opponents of the multi-billion dollar interchange settlement between Visa, MasterCard, top issuers and merchants must change “bad information” on their Websites, according to a federal judge. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, who presided over the class-action antitrust suit, agreed with plaintiffs’ attorneys that sites from trade groups that have come out in opposition to the settlement—National Community Pharmacists Association, National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores, among others—are misleading merchants.

Attorneys for the settlement called out http://merchantsobject.com/ and the home sites of many of the trade groups for encouraging retailers to opt out of the settlement without fully explaining the consequences. Gleeson also ruled that the sites failed to link to the court-approved site providing information about the settlement: https://www.paymentcardsettlement.com/en .

Merchants that object to the settlement, as many have , are within their rights to opt out. While they retain the right to sue the card networks or issuers over interchange, merchants that opt out will be ineligible for the monetary settlement, though the amount due to each member of the class still is unclear. If enough merchants object to and/or opt out of the settlement, the judge may decide to void it.

Subsequent to Judge Gleeson’s decision last week, MerchantsObject.com added a disclaimer at the top of the site’s home page that links users to the official, court-approved information source but still warns merchants to “evaluate anything they tell you critically.”

The deadline to opt out or object to the settlement is May 28. A hearing to decide if the settlement receives final approval is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2013 in Brooklyn, N.Y.