Oklahoma City News Channel 9 Features Story on Gravity Payments’ Program to Help Local Businesses Get Their Money Back.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal judge approved a nearly $6 billion class-action settlement to resolve merchant complaints over credit card fees. Friday’s ruling is the largest private antitrust settlement in history.
Between 2004 and 2012, VISA and MasterCard were overcharging merchants that were accepting credit cards. The companies have been found liable to pay those fees back to every business across the country.
“We had no idea. I figured we would get a notice or something, but we didn’t know anything about it,” said Midwest City business owner, Aaron Broyles.
Aaron and his wife Andrea are about to begin a lengthy process of filing and trying to get their money back.
“You have to accept the credit cards if you want to get most of these people’s business. The fees, it’s part of it. It’s part of our prices too, so as fees go up. Our prices got to go up with it. It’s just part of doing business,” said Broyles.
More than 60-percent of Aaron’s business comes from credit card payments. He’s been paying those card fees since 2005. Now, because of this settlement, Aaron can expect a return of roughly $3,000 to $5,000.
“It affects every single company that’s ever accepted a payment with a credit card,” said Ryan Pirkle.
Pirkle and his team with Gravity Payments, a payment processing company, are visiting all 600 of their Oklahoma clients. Many of whom had no idea about the multi-billion dollar class action settlement.
“Take some sort of action, get your money back,” said Pirkle. “This is your money. This has been taken from you.”
According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, the value of the settlement reached last year, decreased to $5.7 billion from roughly $7.2 billion. That was after thousands of merchants opted out of the deal, which included the nation’s largest retailers – Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Target.
But some that opted out have filed separate lawsuits.
“That cost can be pretty substantial, and knowing that we’re going to get some of that back is kind of a relief,” said Broyles.
Surcharging to offset credit card fees is illegal in most states, including Oklahoma, although many retailers do it anyway.