CFIB will soon be launching a new campaign to inform our members of an opportunity to claim a portion of a class action settlement related to credit cards. As you know, CFIB has been a leader in lobbying for greater fairness and lower fees from the credit card industry and this is just the latest development in CFIB’s ongoing work to keep credit card companies accountable.
Background: In 2011, a small business in BC launched a lawsuit against, Visa, Mastercard and several banks alleging that Visa and Mastercard conspired with banks and acquirers to set the amount of interchange fees and impose rules that restrict merchants’ ability to surcharge or refuse higher cost credit cards. This case quickly spread across Canada. The case took over a decade but was finally settled in October 2021. More details can be found on the Credit Card Class Action website.
What does this mean for members?
There will be approximately $131 million available for distribution to settlement class members which includes any business that paid merchant fees, at any time since March 23, 2001. Eligible merchants will have from May 30th to September 30th, 2022, to file a claim to receive a portion of these funds.
As of October 6th, 2022, merchants in most provinces will be allowed to surcharge clients who pay by credit card. As part of the settlement, Visa and Mastercard have agreed to allow merchants to surcharge but the merchant will have to register with Visa and/or Mastercard and their acquirer 30 days in advance of starting to surcharge (more to come in late summer). Merchants operating in Quebec will not be able to surcharge due to provincial Consumer Protection laws that do not allow it.
How much can a merchant get? There are different amounts based on the average annual revenues of the business. Most of our members will be in the “Small Merchant Fund” which is defined as those merchants who collect less than $5 million in annual average revenue. This group will receive $30 per year that they paid merchant discount fees since 2001. To receive that money, a merchant would simply have to file a claim form via an online portal and would NOT be required to provide documentary proof that they paid merchant fees (“Undocumented Claims”).
Medium-sized merchants with average annual revenue between $5 million and $20 million would have to file a claim AND provide documented proof of any agreement they entered into with an acquirer since 2001. They would be able to receive $250 per year that they paid merchant fees since 2001.
What is CFIB doing? CFIB wants to make sure our members that accept credit cards are aware of the opportunity to claim a portion of this settlement. We have developed a landing page (https://initiatives.cfib-fcei.ca/en-ca/credit-card-class-action-lawsuit) where merchants can get more information including how they can apply. We will also be providing DMs with some documentation to share with members and prospects, as well as sending member emails and launching a social media campaign.
If members have questions, please refer them to our Business Advisors at 1-833-568-2342.
The online portal will open on May 30, 2022, and the deadline to apply will be September 30, 2022. Claims must be filed during this time and payments will be made after the deadline has passed.