It is hardly news that retailers have been at loggerheads with the banks and card schemes over the fees that they charge for customers’ card transactions. It continues to be a more than fractious relationship.
After the EU judged in 2007 that MasterCard had violated antitrust rules with the high level of interchange fees it charged retailers, it looked like the retail sector had struck a major blow. But MasterCard is still fighting the judgement with appeal after appeal.
Such is the frustration with MasterCard’s successful efforts at frustrating the rule of the law that a band of UK retailers have individually taken the card scheme to court and are suing it for “unlawful interchange fees”.
The likes of Arcadia, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Debenhams are seeking damages from MasterCard equating to the amounts that they have been overcharged since the EU courts ruled that the level of interchange fees should be reduced.
This amounts to tens of millions of pounds for this batch of retailers and should they gain victory in the courts then the ramifications for the sector are huge because the potential claims that could then be lodged by the rest of the retail community would equate to hundreds of millions of pounds.
Don’t expect this to conclude any time soon but it is certainly a very interesting development in this long-running and increasingly nasty fight.