Group Urges Retailers to Reject Card Settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Retail Federation urged retailers on Tuesday to reject a settlement with major credit card companies over alleged fee-fixing, ahead of a court deadline next week.

Visa (NYSE: V  ) , MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) , and other card companies agreed in July to settle a lawsuit brought by retailers that claimed card issuers conspired to fix the fees they charge stores for accepting credit cards.

The National Retail Federation, representing more than 9,000 retailers across the country, has rejected the settlement, in part, because it includes a provision barring retailers from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees. Retailers have also argued that the $7.2 billion settlement was far less than what retailers deserved and might have won at trial.

Visa called the settlement a "fair and reasonable compromise."

Retailers have until May 28 to opt out of the agreement, if they wish to pursue future legal action. Retailers who do not opt out by the deadline will automatically be considered to have accepted the settlement.

"No settlement at all would be better than this one-sided 'agreement' written by the card companies for the card companies that would tie retailers' hands for decades to come," said Mallory Duncan, the National Retail Federation's general counsel.

The suit was brought in 2005 by 19 trade associations and retail companies. The National Retail Federation is not a party to the lawsuit, but says its members would be affected by the terms of the settlement.

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