CVS, Visa, MasterCard reach settlement over interchange fees

CVS was among a number of large merchants who determined the 2012 antitrust settlement did not go far enough.

When Visa and MasterCard agreed to pay more than $7 billion to merchants claiming the financial institutions conspired to set interchange fees, several large merchants were notably absent from the proceedings. Now CVS, the leader of the so-called "CVS Plaintiffs" who opted out of the deal, has reached its own settlement with the card companies.

According to Law360, a U.S. District Judge signed an order on March 29 effectively ending the pharmacy's suit, stating that CVS had "fully settled all of its claims" against Visa and MasterCard. The stipulation did not, however, disclose the terms of the deal, reports Law360.

"CVS was among those who decided the terms did not go far enough."

This marks the most recent settlement in a case that has been more than four years in the making. In 2012, Visa and MasterCard agreed to pay a $7.25 billion settlement after an antitrust lawsuit claimed the financial giants colluded to set rules allowing them to charge merchants exorbitant fees to accept their payment cards. When the settlement was finally approved the next year, CVS was among several major retailers who decided the terms of the settlement did not go far enough, instead opting out and filing their own complaints later that year.

In its case, the pharmacy demanded damages from the card companies, alleging that not only did they work together to set high interchange rates, but that they also "imposed restrictions on merchants to keep those fees high." These restrictions included forcing merchants to accept all Visa and MasterCard payments and forbidding them from charging customers extra to use specialty cards that cost more for merchants per swipe, according to the complaint.

"Due to the anti-competitive merchant restraints, both MasterCard and Visa have been able to dramatically and with impunity raise the interchange fees that plaintiff and other merchants pay," CVS said in its complaint, as reported by Law360.

Representatives for CVS, MasterCard and Visa all declined to comment on the Law360 story. 

by Ty Hardison

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