NEW YORK – Target Corp., Macy's Inc. and 15 other retailers sued Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. over credit card and debit card fees after dropping out of a multibillion-dollar settlement of a similar case.
The biggest U.S. payment card firms illegally restrained competition for interchange fees by setting default rates and imposing almost identical rules for accepting cards, the retailers said Thursday in a federal court complaint.
In the previous antitrust suit pending in Brooklyn federal court, dozens of large retailers including Target and Macy's opposed a $7.25 billion proposed settlement, alleging it gave Visa and MasterCard too much freedom to raise rates.
"Plaintiffs have paid and continue to pay significantly higher costs to accept Visa-branded and MasterCard-branded credit and debit cards than they would if the banks issuing such cards competed for merchant acceptance," lawyers for the retailers said in Thursday's complaint.
Visa and MasterCard are former joint ventures of major banks that now act as agents of financial institutions that retain some ownership of the card companies, the retailers alleged.
A spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents Visa, MasterCard and banks and credit unions that issue payment cards, said "no one is surprised" by the new lawsuit.
"They were saying they were going to do this for nearly a year now," Trish Wexler, the spokeswoman, said.