NCPA rejects proposed swipe fee settlement
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday rejected a proposed settlement in relation to the antitrust lawsuit that NCPA and other parties have brought against several banks regarding alleged collusive practices, including swipe fees at exorbitant levels and limiting competition.
"After closely reviewing this complex and multifaceted proposed agreement along with legal counsel, NCPA's board concluded that the settlement is insufficient and that accepting it would not be in the best interest of merchants and the independent community pharmacy owners that NCPA represents," NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said. "NCPA joined this lawsuit to achieve meaningful, long-term reforms to the current swipe fee system. This proposed settlement came woefully short by not imposing necessary fundamental changes to the structure of the industry and the rules affecting merchants, particularly small-business community pharmacies."
According to the NCPA, the settlement appears to offer merchants the ability to pass along some excessive credit card fees to their customers in order to incentivize consumers to use alternative, lower-cost methods of payment, but "enough strings are attached and existing barriers exist to effectively eliminate this as an option." In addition, the settlement broadly curtails pharmacies and other merchants from taking any future action against the credit card companies by releasing any and all claims going forward. "Finally, nothing in this agreement restrains the credit card companies from imposing significantly higher fees for years to come, effectively wiping out the monetary component of the settlement," Hoey added.