What is being billed as the largest antitrust settlement ever at $7.25 Billion, The Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation settlement received preliminary court approval back in November 2012. All merchants in the class action suit were notified that they had until May 28th to opt out. With this deadline behind us and only about 7,000 merchants out of more than 7 million merchant class members formally opting out, final court approval is exceedingly likely.
Many of the merchants that did opt out were very large merchants like Amazon.com, 7-Eleven, CVS Pharmacy Inc., Target Corp., Macy’s Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. who opted out over concerns that the settlement gave Visa and MasterCard too much freedom to raise rates in the future. In choosing to opt out these merchants gave up their rights to claim their part of the $7.2 billion settlement and instead have filed additional legal suits continuing their ongoing battle with the card companies over Interchange fees. Visa has since filed their own legal action asking the court to rule that the card companies’ fee practices are not illegal in an attempt to prevent “the continuation of endless, wasteful litigation.”
For the rest of us who didn't do anything to opt out by the May deadline, we are in the merchant class and ready for the next step. A hearing on final approval is set for Sept 12, 2013. After that it is expected that official claim notices will be mailed to all eligible merchants.