Retail group rejects $7.25 billion settlement over swipe fees

The settlement comes in well below the $30 billion per year that NRF estimates is collected from swipe fees. NRF argues that if the case went to trial, a verdict in favor of retailers could total hundreds of billions of dollars.

Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, which supports the settlement, said the "sudden burst of feigned anguish by a handful of retailer trade groups is unsurprising, brought on by political ulterior motives."

She charged NRF with objecting "in an effort to get some public-relations benefit in an attempt to influence the courts."

She said the retail group's complaints now pertain to the injunctive relief portions of the settlement agreement, "for which they cannot opt out."

"This matter has been discussed and negotiated for seven-plus years, a process [with] which NRF was intimately involved," Wexler said. 

"They were absolutely aware of negotiations, were intimately involved in the matter, and had ample opportunity over the years to weigh in through various channels, intervene or become a party — but clearly chose not to for tactical reasons."

She said her group remains confident that the courts will approve the settlement agreement.

A federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y, must still approve the agreement, which was first announced on July 13.

The multibillion-dollar deal settles dozens of lawsuits filed in 2005 by a group of retailers over the interchange fees. Some stores that sued individually will also get a portion of the settlement.

NRF said it is particularly concerned by a provision barring all merchants — including those that are established in the future — from ever suing Visa and MasterCard over swipe fees.

NRF is exploring what form its legal action against the settlement might take. 

The nation's largest retail group said it is not a part of the lawsuit, and U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson has not yet fully outlined how outside groups will be allowed to intervene, or if the case qualifies as a class action. 

“A key question for the judge is whether this settlement is fair to the nation’s retailers,” Shay said. “From what we have heard, it unequivocally is not." 

— This story was updated at 6:19 p.m.