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Retailers file suit against Visa, large banks over swipe fees

Five million retailers are suing Visa and 13 other large banks over the swipe fees charged to retailers on debit and credit card transactions.

The suit, dating to 2001, alleges that the banks conspired to charge fees much higher than the competitive market dictates they should be, Inc.com reports.

Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking compensation of overcharged fees for the fullest time period permitted, according to the filing.

Such a lawsuit could become very expensive for Visa. Since the suit was filed, Visa has already put $4 million into escrow to handle the lawsuit.

A similar suit filed by Wal-Mart and Limited Brands in 1996 cost the companies $3 billion in monetary damages and $25 billion in revenue, according to Inc.com. Though the case resulted in the reduction of debit card fees, Visa raised credit card fees to compensate for lost revenue.

The current case, set to go to trial on Sep. 12, will be heard by Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. Eastern District. Gleeson also handled the 1996 Wal-Mart suit. Deutsch Bank analyst Bryan Keane said in a Nov. 16 report that Gleeson’s involvement “may play out favorably for the [plaintiffs]," Yahoo.com reports.

"Ten individual plaintiffs, including Kroger, Walgreens and some other large chains, have opted out of the class," according to Yahoo.com.

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