Irvine, CA October 24, 2006 -- WayTooHigh.com said if Visa® and MasterCard Worldwide® would post the exact merchant interchange fees on every credit card receipt it would accelerate attention to the $30 billion annual hidden tax on consumers and retailers. This relief is being championed by the editors of WayTooHigh.com -- The Credit Card Interchange Report.
Visa USA Inc. has already begun posting a matrix of perplexing rate schedules and scores of fees on its website; MasterCard plans a similar program soon.
"A more straightforward pricing model to easily obtain fee schedules is in place at most other businesses," explained Mitch Goldstone and Carl Berman, WayTooHigh.com co-editors and lead plaintiffs in the antitrust litigation against the two leading credit card associations and its member banks.
As an example, Goldstone said "when consumers order concert tickets from Ticketmaster® the receipt includes the exact 'convenience charge,' 'delivery' and 'order processing fees.' When packages are sent via Federal Express®, a detailed price quote pops up on the online ordering page to provide the exact 'fuel surcharge' and other fees. If Federal Express' rates are too high, consumers can choose another carrier. But, with an 80% market monopoly, retailers are forced to accept the two leading payment card brands."
Some restaurants even post recommended tips on the receipts for average, good and exceptional service.
"While not endorsing a particular solution, it would be more helpful for consumers if there were unambiguous and transparent interchange fees for each transaction -- right on the charge receipt," said Goldstone, president and CEO of the Irvine, Calif-based 30 Minute Photos Etc. and 30minphotos.com, the national online boutique photo service. Goldstone and Berman's company was the first to file a federal complaint against Visa, MasterCard and its member banks back in June 2005 [MDL 1720].
WayTooHigh.com recently profiled several other lead plaintiffs. Some publicly waged concerns about Visa opaquely publishing its U.S. interchange fee schedule in an attempt to appease retailers angered by the fees charged on card transactions.
Goldstone explained that the current Visa and MasterCard fee structures "resemble a distinctively strong onion flavor with multiple layers of confusion. To rid watery eyes when pealing onions, a solution is to soak it in water, but currently there is no fix for those nearly one-hundred separate and ambiguous, unbridled merchants card fees."
"Disclosing the exact interchange fee on every credit card receipt will help consumers and retailers better understand the real extent of these charges," commented Goldstone who explained that "average credit card interchange fee in the U.S. is about 1.7% of the total charge."
Just as sales tax is included on receipts, Goldstone believes that more transparency for the merchant interchange tax would lead to more competition among card networks. By doing so, he said "the volume of consumer and retailer outrage will be amplified, especially if this fee posting was implemented before 'Black Friday' -- the day after Thanksgiving which is among the busiest retail shopping days of the year."
Background: WayTooHigh.com -- The Credit Card Interchange Report has more than 525 news and commentary posting on its website. 30 Minute Photos Etc. was founded in 1990 and operates a retail photo center and nationwide online boutique photo service. The company is lead plaintiff in the payment card interchange fee antitrust litigation. Goldstone is a well-known leader in the photo industry who regularly addresses photo imaging industry conferences across the country. He will be addressing the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January.