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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Visa, Mastercard, Alleging Price Fixing Conspiracy
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Camp Fiorante Matthews and Branch MacMaster, both Vancouver based law firms, have filed a class action lawsuit against Visa, Mastercard and some of the country’s largest banks, for allegedly conspiring to fix prices on the fees paid by merchants on credit card transactions, according to the March 29th article at money.canoe.ca. The suit, which dates back to 2001, seeks to recoup fees for merchants.

The suit alleges that under current rules, merchants are forced to accept every Visa or Mastercard credit card, even if the merchants are charged higher fees, and that merchants are prevented from charging more for payments with premium cards.

  
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Ward Branch, a partner at Branch MacMaster was quoted as saying: “Our research suggests that these fees cost Canadian merchants $5 billion in 2009 alone. The system is bad for Canadian merchants, Canadian consumers and for the Canadian economy as a whole.”

In 2010, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced a voluntary code of conduct for the industry, requiring a higher level of transparency regarding pricing and charges. Earlier in 2011, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business launched a campaign, encouraging consumers to use cash or debit cards versus credit to protest the high fees.

In addition to Visa and Mastercard, the lawsuit also names BMO Financial Group, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of America, Capital One and Citigroup.

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