The Merchants Payments Coalition launched an aggressive media and grassroots campaign to rein in unfair and hidden credit card fees called “interchange.” The campaign is already underway in eight key House members’ districts.
The initial phase of this campaign is working to convince a bi-partisan group of Members of Congress who could be important champions for this legislation, each of them members of the powerful Financial Services Committee. Phase one of the campaign consists of a six-figure buy in television, radio, online and print formats focusing directly at constituent action in the Members’ districts. Thousands of merchants and coalition members across the country and in these key districts have also kicked off a grassroots effort to contact their Member of Congress to give small business and consumers a helping hand in this economy.
The list of House members where paid media will run includes: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS); Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL); Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA); Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH); Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY); and Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID).
“First it was subprime mortgages. Now, another financial storm is on the horizon, and as Congress tries to rein in credit card fees, they could miss the biggest problem, and that is why we’re launching this aggressive campaign to reform interchange fees and rules. As Members of Congress work to fix the economic crisis and reform the financial system, they need to address the growing problem of unfair and anticompetitive interchange. Reining in interest rates and late fees is an important step, but it won’t mean anything for the consumer if banks are allowed to just shift the costs to interchange fees and impose rules that adversely affect consumers and merchants,” said Tom Wenning, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at the National Grocers Association.
“The retailers and consumers who pay these fees are not asking for a government bailout — just transparency and a fair process. A 300 percent increase in 7 years in this economy — that is not fair or market based,” said Jennifer Hatcher, Group Vice President of Government Relations at the Food Marketing Institute.
The campaign is calling on these Members to stand up to credit card companies and big banks who, after the disaster of the subprime mortgages, are still practicing predatory lending with credit cards, charging huge, hidden fees known as interchange that cost Americans $48 billion last year alone. These interchange fees are threatening to squeeze thousands of merchants out of business and are costing hundreds of dollars per year for the average household. In our current economic crisis, these fees are a burden to millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and a drain on our national recovery.