In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, MDL No.1720 (MKB) (JO).
This class-action lawsuit probably sounds familiar to you. Like a pesky, unfinished dream that roams your mind looking for a conclusion. If only you could go back to sleep and let the dream finish. Eventually, you let it go or you train yourself not to spend time worrying about things you cannot control. Now and then something happens and you remember the unresolved … lawsuit. Another postcard mailing or email shows up in your CFO or Treasurer’s office from a company offering to help collect the money due to your business, for a fee.
This class-action lawsuit was filed way back in 2005. Remember 2005 right? That’s when “YouTube” was founded, Disneyland Resort celebrated its 50th birthday and Microsoft released Xbox 360 in North America. We lined up at movie theaters to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe. All of those entertaining things are still around, perhaps considered classic by now. Also still around but definitely unfinished and not exactly entertaining is this court case. Here’s what you need to know and where it stands now:
The lawsuit class period is January 1, 2004, to January 25. 2019. Interchange fees assessed to over 12 million merchants during this time are included in the case. If you accepted Visa-branded or Mastercard-branded cards during the class period and did not take explicit action to exclude your business from the settlement before July 23, 2019, then you are part of the Settlement Class. As a member of the Settlement Class, you should still be retaining documentation from the class period that shows how much money your business was charged in interchange fees. You should also be familiar with the Official Court Authorized Settlement Website. Check out the FAQ page, I found it easy to understand and informative.
A final settlement amount of $5.54 billion was approved on December 16, 2019. An appeal of the final settlement amount was filed on January 3, 2020. This appeal remains undecided as of the writing of this blog. That means you will continue to receive those postcards and emails from companies willing to help you file your documentation. Which cannot be filed just yet.
Until the appeal has been settled there’s nothing more to see or do here, assuming you have already gathered your class period documentation. Click on the official settlement website every month or so to see if anything has changed. Let your CFO and Legal offices know they will probably continue to hear from the third parties offering help. This has gone on for nearly 16 years now. Someday it will conclude and the courts will give you a clear direction on how to obtain settlement. Until then…let this unresolved situation pass quickly through your thoughts.
Information in this blog pertaining to the class-action lawsuit was obtained from the Official Court-Authorized Settlement Website (https://www.paymentcardsettlement.com/en). When unsure of how developments in the payments space pertain to your business rely on a trusted partner like CampusGuard to help you. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.