Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welch and Shuster join small business owners calling for credit and debit card fairness

Congressman Bill Shuster joined Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and a group of convenience store owners Tuesday morning as they delivered two million signatures from customers urging Congress to put an end to unfair credit and debit card swipe fees.

At a Capitol Hill press conference, Welch and Bill Shuster called on their fellow lawmakers to support legislation they wrote, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act (H.R. 2382), which would help level the playing field between consumers, small businesses and credit card companies by requiring greater transparency and prohibiting unfair and abusive practices. The two million new signatures add to 1.7 million signatures delivered by store owners to Congress last September.

Welch also announced during the event that he will be introducing legislation requiring debit card payments to be processed in the same manner as paper checks, resulting in lower fees for merchants. Though debit cards function as the electronic equivalent of checks, debit card issuers charge egregious fees, while checks clear at a nominal rate.

“Today two million Americans added their voices to the chorus calling for fairness for the small businesses that drive our economy. Two million more Americans are recognizing that swipe fees kill good-paying, local jobs and drive up costs for consumers. Two million more Americans are saying ‘enough is enough,’” said Rep. Welch. “We must take action to rein in the abusive practices of the credit card industry and ensure that small businesses get a fair deal.”

American consumers and merchants pay $48 billion each year in hidden credit and debit card fees – more than twice those charged in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia.

“As a former small business owner, I know how hard it is to make a payroll, pay taxes and fees and try to make a profit all at the same time,” Shuster said. “For far too long, Interchange Fees have been an unnecessary impediment for businesses and that needs to change. It is my hope Congress will consider the merits of our bill, as well as the serious struggle of business owners and consumers alike in their need for transparency, simplicity, and fairness when it comes to the issue of Interchange Fees.

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