| March 27
March 27 Wal-Mart Stores Inc this week
sued Visa Inc for $5 billion, accusing the credit and
debit card network of excessively high card swipe fees, several
months after the retailer opted out of a class action settlement
between merchants and Visa and MasterCard Inc.
Visa declined to comment on the suit, filed Tuesday in the
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, where
Wal-Mart is headquartered.
Visa and other card networks charge retailers fees, called
swipe fees or interchange fees, each time a shopper uses a debit
or credit card to pay.
In December, a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., approved a
$5.7 billion class action settlement between merchants and Visa
and MasterCard despite the objections of thousands of retailers
that complained it was inadequate.
Wal-Mart, Amazon.com Inc, and Target Corp
were among those opting out of the monetary components of the
settlement to have the freedom to seek damages on their own.
Those businesses complained about a broad litigation release
in the settlement. The release forces all merchants who accepted
Visa or MasterCard, and those who will in the future, to give up
their right to sue the credit card companies over rules at issue
in the case or similar ones they may make in the future.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is seeking damages
from price fixing and other antitrust violations that it claims
took place between Jan. 1, 2004 and Nov. 27, 2012.
In its lawsuit, Wal-Mart contends that Visa, in concert with
banks, sought to prevent retailers from protecting themselves
against those swipe fees, eventually hurting sales.
"The anticompetitive conduct of Visa and the banks forced
Wal-Mart to raise retail prices paid by its customers and/or
reduce retail services provided to its customers as a means of
offsetting some of the artificially inflated interchange fees,"
Wal-Mart in court documents.
"As a result, Wal-Mart's retail sales were below what they
would have been otherwise."
When asked whether Wal-Mart would file a suit against
Mastercard, a spokesman for the retailer said the company would
not discuss its litigation plans publicly.
Wal-Mart contends that that the way Visa set swipe fees
violated antitrust regulations and generated more than $350
billion for card issuers over the nearly 9-year period in
question, in part at the expense of the retailer and customers.
The case is in re: Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. District Court,
Western District of Arkansas, No. 05101.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Cynthia