ARLINGTON, VA — October 8, 2009 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued the following statement from Jennifer Hatcher, group vice president, government relations, on today’s hearing by the House Financial Services Committee on the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2009:

“We commend Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) for introducing this important legislation to protect small businesses and consumers and we thank Chairman Frank and the committee for holding a hearing on this bill.”

“We are grateful to Kathy Miller, co-owner with her husband Warren, of the Elmore Store in Elmore, VT, for testifying on behalf of FMI and the National Grocers Association.”

“As Kathy Miller explained in her testimony, when grocers decide to accept Visa and MasterCard in their stores, they must agree to abide by all Visa and MasterCard rules and all future rules. Visa and MasterCard can change the rules at any point and are not obligated to inform the merchants. Rep. Shuster printed out a complete copy of the rules to show the volume to the Committee – a stack that topped six inches in height.”

“The Millers and other merchants who accept Visa and MasterCard are not allowed to set a minimum amount for credit card transactions in their stores. Kathy Miller shared that when she sells a pack of gum, she loses money. When she sells a bag of chips, she makes 2 cents and the bank makes 23 cents. Something is wrong with this picture.”

Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) questioned the panel, “Is there anybody who thinks we should be doing nothing?” noting the silence of the Committee.

“FMI and our members look forward to continuing to work with Congressmen Welch and Shuster and the House Financial Services Committee on a legislative solution to address unfair interchange fees and their impact on merchants and their customers,” said Hatcher.

“Credit card swipe fees are the second highest cost and the only completely uncontrollable cost businesses face. Because of their exponential growth, they are the expense that is most likely to cause small stores to go out of business.”


Credit card companies and banks extract an interchange fee — or “swipe fee” — averaging about 2 percent on every credit card transaction. The total cost of interchange fees tripled since the beginning of this decade, from $16.6 billion in 2001 to $48.8 billion in 2008, according to the Merchants Payments Coalition and data from The Nilson Report.