House of Commons begins historic credit and debit card inquiry



    
    - StopStickingItToUs Coalition asks Parliamentary Committee to reject
    U.S-style financial deregulation -
    

    OTTAWA, May 11 /CNW/ - This week, representatives of hundreds of
thousands of Canadian businesses will descend on Ottawa for the start of House
of Commons Committee hearings focused on the runaway fees merchants are forced
to pay to accept credit cards. The joint House Finance/Industry Committee
inquiry, which begins tomorrow, comes on the heels of hearings held on the
issue by the Senate Banking Committee that concluded last week. The hearings
signal the first time that credit and debit card issues have been examined by
Parliament.
    "Parliamentary hearings on the abuse of Canadian merchants and consumers
by credit card companies represent an historic opportunity for Canada to craft
its own financial future," said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail
Council of Canada and Chair of the StopStickingItToUs Coalition. "American
credit card companies say that deregulation is best, but in the midst of a
financial crisis largely caused by a lack of appropriate oversight, we hope
that Canadian law makers will see the folly of that approach."
    At the centre of the inquiry are the fee practices of Canada's two major
credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, who have hiked merchant charges
over the past year. Merchants have asked Parliament to examine the
uncontrolled escalation in credit card fees as well as the imminent
destruction of Canada's low-cost and efficient debit system as Visa and
MasterCard prepare to enter the Canadian market with their own debit products.
    Merchants have also been alarmed by the explosion of premium cards into
the Canadian market - cards that carry an increased cost for merchants. In
year's past these more expensive cards would typically represent a small
percentage of a merchant's credit card transactions, but they've jumped to
more than 30% for many merchants in less than a year.
    "Most Canadians don't know there are hidden costs attached to credit card
transactions," Brisebois explained. "VISA and MasterCard unilaterally set
those fees and increase them when they chose. In recent months merchants have
witnessed a flood of 'premium cards' in Canada, which carry significantly
higher fees. These costs end up on every consumer's bill, whether they pay
with credit, cash or debit."

    About the StopStickingItToUs Coalition

    The StopStickingItToUs Coalition is a group of Canadian associations, led
by Retail Council of Canada and backed by over 200,000 businesses from
coast-to-coast, that is standing up to the Big Credit Card Companies to put a
stop to skyrocketing fees. Its members include: Retail Council of Canada,
Alberta Liquor Store Association, Canadian Booksellers Association, Canadian
Convenience Stores Association, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors,
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, Canadian Jewellers Association,
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Hotel Association of Canada,
Ontario Accommodation Association, Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel
Association, Retail B.C, The Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers
Association, The British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association,
The Retail Merchant's Association of Canada (Ontario). Wine Council of
Ontario, Mega Group Inc. Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, Canadian Oil
Heat Association, Conseil québécois du commerce de détail, Camping in Ontario,
Tourism Industry Association of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Chain
Drugstores.
    Québec affiliate members: Association des marchands dépanneurs et
épiciers du Québec, Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec,
Association des détaillants en matériaux de construction du Québec,
Association des hôteliers du Québec, Conseil des chaînes de restaurants du
Québec, Conseil canadien de la distribution en alimentation-Québec

    About Retail Council of Canada

    Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has been the Voice of Retail in Canada
since 1963. We speak for an industry that touches the daily lives of Canadians
in every corner of the country - by providing jobs, career opportunities, and
by investing in the communities we serve. RCC is a not-for-profit,
industry-funded association representing more than 40,000 store fronts of all
retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, and
independent stores, and online merchants. RCC is a strong advocate for
retailing in Canada and works with all levels of government and other
stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail,
to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast-to-coast,
and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. RCC also provides
its members with a full range of services and programs including education and
training, benchmarking and best practices, networking, advocacy, and industry
information.





For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact Mark
Beazley, Director, Communications, Retail Council of Canada at (416) 922-0553
ext. 228, or mbeazley@retailcouncil.org


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