WASHINGTON, April 27 /PRNewswire/ — Building on 7-Eleven’s successful “Stop Unfair Credit Card Fees” consumer petition campaign, convenience store operators today joined with U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (VT-At Large) and Bill Shuster (PA-9) to deliver an additional 2 million new customer signatures collected during the NACS “Stop Unfair Swipe Fees” campaign, which is asking Congress to put an end to unfair, hidden credit and debit card swipe fees that cripple Main Street merchants and their customers.
“Today two million Americans added their voices to the chorus calling for fairness for the small businesses that drive our economy. Two million more Americans are recognizing that swipe fees kill good-paying, local jobs and drive up costs for consumers. Two million more Americans are saying ‘enough is enough,'” said Rep. Welch. “We must take action to rein in the abusive practices of the credit card industry and ensure that small businesses get a fair deal.”
Combined with 7-Eleven’s 1.7 million signatures urging swipe fee reform, the total number of signatures delivered to Congress is 3.7 million — the largest number of consumer signatures ever collected for a public policy issue.
American consumers and merchants pay $48 billion each year in hidden credit and debit card fees — more than twice those charged in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia. In fact, just yesterday, Visa Europe agreed to slash some of the fees charged for debit card transactions in Europe, while debit rates in the U.S. have continued to climb.
“Swipe fees cost Americans more than late fees, over-the-limit fees, annual fees, cash advance fees and ATM fees combined,” said Hank Armour, NACS president and CEO. “Small businesses across the country are struggling to pay these huge fees. It’s bad enough that tough economic conditions are forcing many retailers to lay off employees or shut their doors because they cannot sustain growth, on top of paying unfair card fees that they cannot negotiate. Congress needs to take action and that action needs to come today.”
Rep. Shuster, who has introduced legislation to reform swipe fees, agreed. “As a former small business owner, I know how hard it is to make a payroll, pay taxes and fees, and try to make a profit all at the same time,” Shuster said. “For far too long, interchange fees have been an unnecessary impediment for businesses, and that needs to change. It is my hope that Congress will consider the merits of our bill, as well as the serious struggle of business owners and consumers alike in their need for transparency, simplicity, and fairness when it comes to the issue of interchange fees.”
Retailers and their customers across the country are demanding that Congress create an everyday stimulus for Main Street by reining in unfair hidden swipe fees. With this second round of petition signatures, consumers and merchants are saying “enough is enough” and wondering how many more millions of signatures Congress needs to see before it takes a stand.
“It’s pretty crazy to think that the credit card companies make more off of most small stores than the owners do, but that’s the case these days,” said NACS Chairman Jay Ricker, CEO of Ricker Oil Company. “From coast to coast, convenience stores pay more in fees to the credit card companies than they make in profits each year. Millions of Americans have signed these petitions and urged Congress to take action against unfair swipe fees. It’s time for Congress to step up to the plate and fix this broken system.”
“Swipe fee reform would provide an everyday economic stimulus that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime,” said Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart Stores. “Turning down a solution as simple and straight-forward as swipe fee reform is a slap in the face to the 3.7 million consumers who have stated very clearly that they care about this issue.”
Following today’s press conference, U.S. senators will receive the signature of each customer who signed the petition in their state.
Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS is the international association for convenience and petroleum retailing, representing more than 2,200 retail and 1,800 supplier member companies. The U.S. convenience store industry, with nearly 145,000 stores across the country, posted $624 billion in total sales in 2008, of which $450 billion was motor fuels sales.