The two companies handling most of Europe’s cross-border credit card business are facing lawsuits, probes and many questions of disparity of credit card fees among the British Isles, and even among various credit cards.
Merchants are finding that MasterCard credit and debit card use is not priceless nor does Visa open a whole new world.
Finally, the issue that has been growing in discussion since 2007 will be settled by the EU’s highest court next month.
High Credit Card Fees to be Settled next month
The EU’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice, will hear MasterCard’s appeal in an oral hearing set for July 4. The EU General Court, the EU’s second highest court, ruled earlier that MasterCard did indeed breach anti-trust rules by overcharging merchants for cross-border transactions.
The argument over the fees extends across oceans. In fact, animosity and suspicion has grown to the point where there are fee caps and strict regulations taking root in Australia while a long EU probe continues through the summer.
Three primary factors are at issue. Those are the rates being charged for credit card use in Britain verses the continent, fees being charged on foreign cards abroad, and rates being charged against shops dealing with premier cards, which typically are used by more affluent customers.
In the first scenario, Brits typically pay twice as much as the French in credit card transaction fees. The second and third cases, in the eyes of the European Commission, could be considered anti-competitive. The result of such unruly business behavior would be a stall in cross-border business and intense harm to credit card customers, according to those initiating the probe. The investigation scrunitized bank fees on foreign card payments, which affects tourists shopping in the 27-nation bloc.
The EU decided in 2007 that unfairly inflated transaction fees were being charged to merchants simply to process payments. The Purchase, a New York-based company that oversees European card charges, has since been hit with a dozen lawsuits in the U.K. over cross-border fees and faces intense pressure from the probe.
The commission sent an anti-trust complaint to Visa Europe Ltd., who operates the EU’s largest payment-card network, last year. The complaint centered on its cross-border credit card payment fees. This wasn’t the first time Visa faced questions. It settled a 2011 probe regarding fees on debit card payments made outside a customer’s home country.
EU regulators also state they will investigate whether MasterCard’s rules keep worthy merchants from benefiting from better financial conditions at other banks elsewhere in the bloc.
MasterCard said publicly it would fully cooperate with the investigation. However, it is arguing that the fees are necessary the global credit and debit card system. MasterCard had suspended such cross-border fees in 2008 to avoid a European Commission fine. The commission had ordered the card company in 2007 to end the fees by June 2008 or face a substantial penalty.
MasterCard appealed the commission’s ruling and the battle over fees has continued ever since.
Maple Leaf Financial Credit Card Complaints
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- Did your credit card company check your ability to afford the credit card?
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- Have your personal circumstances changed since you took out the credit card?
- Have your financial circumstances changed since you took out the credit card?
- Has your credit card provider started legal proceedings against you?
- Did anyone explain that the credit card agreement was ‘Cancellable’?
- Did anyone tell you about the ‘Cooling Off Period’?
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