Interchange Amendment: Write your Congressman

Are you for or against the Durbin Interchange Amendment? Now is the time to let your representative know how you feel, as the implementation (or stalling) of the Durbin Interchange Amendment is coming up quickly. Over the last two weeks, a Senate Bill to delay implementation of the interchange amendment was introduced (S.575 – Debit Interchange Fee Study Act of 2011). A version was introduced in the House of Representatives as well (HR 1081: Consumers Payment System Protection Act). Depending on which side of the issue you are on, two competing coalitions are making it easy for you to let your representative know how you stand.

Pro-Interchange Regulation?

If you are in favor of the interchange limitations in the Durbin Amendment, you’ll want to visit Unfair Credit Card Fees (a website created by the Merchant Payments Coalition), and use their letter to Congress which states:

I am writing to you today to urge you to vote NO on any type of delay of the debit card swipe fee reform.

Congress should make it easier, not harder, to offer consumer discounts; delaying swipe fee reform will make discounting nearly impossible. And discounting is all the more important as gasoline tops $4 a gallon.

The same big banks that were bailed out a few years back are asking Congress to turn its back on American business owners and consumers, so that the credit card companies and their banking allies can keep on gouging Main Street Americans with their price-fixing swipe fee scheme.

Swipe fee reform was designed to bring fairness and transparency to the shrouded swipe fee payments system. The law says that the big banks have a choice: they can open the fees to competition and charge whatever price the market permits or they can continue to fix their fees, but those price-fixed fees must be “reasonable and proportional” to their costs.

Congress has held 9 hearings and 1 markup on swipe fees and the GAO has issued 3 reports. I can read the writing between the lines. I know that S. 575 and H.R. 1081 were not written to study the swipe fees that are crippling my business and every consumer in your district; they were written using the big banks’ scare tactics in order to completely derail these reforms. These aren’t “study” bills…they are “kill” bills.

Americans pay the highest swipe fees in the world. Merchants and consumers have been waiting for years to see these reforms realized, and every month of delay means another $1 billion that we have to hand over to the big banks and credit card companies.

Anti-Interchange Regulation?

If you are against implementation of the Durbin Interchange Amendment, you’ll want to go to “Don’t Make Us Pay“, a website operated by the Electronic Payments Coalition (a group of credit unions, banks, and payment card network). Their letter to Congress, reads:

As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to stop the debit card interchange rule before it harms debit card users like me.

The only beneficiaries of this harmful rule are retailers, who will take home an additional $14 billion in profits – and consumers will be left to deal with the consequences. The rule does not require that retailers pass along even one penny of their savings to customers. Meanwhile, banks, forced to lose money on debit interchange transactions, will be forced to compensate by increasing fees for deposit customers.

The fact is that retailers receive tremendous benefits when they accept debit cards for payment, including higher sales, lower costs and guaranteed payment. That’s why millions of retailers have chosen to accept debit cards – and that number is growing.

In effect, consumers like me will end up paying for a payments system that provides retailers with extraordinary value.

I don’t want to be forced to pay higher fees, give up my rewards, and lose my free checking account – just so retailers can have an extra $14 billion in profits.

Congress should be in the business of protecting consumers, not forcing us to pay for the costs of giant retailers.

Please repeal this harmful rule before it’s too late.

Whether you are in favor of the Durbin amendment, or against it, let your representative know where you stand.

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