Market Overview

Announcement of Class-Action Lawsuit Against Visa, MasterCard, Alleging ATM Fee Price-Fixing


Hagens Berman today announced it has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Visa (NYSE: V) and MasterCard (NYSE: MA) violated antitrust laws by establishing uniform agreements with U.S. banks that issue automated teller machine cards, preventing ATM operators from setting transaction fees below those of Visa and MasterCard. This agreement allegedly eliminates competition in the marketplace for ATM network services, causing ATM fees to be higher than they should be. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Oct. 17, 2011, the lawsuit claims that the agreements between Visa and MasterCard and the nation's banks require that ATMs charge fees equal to or greater than Visa or MasterCard's transaction fees, even if the transaction occurs over an alternative network.

The complaint alleges that the agreements with the banks effectively strip ATM owners and operators of the power to make decisions on ATM fee pricing, preventing them from offering discounts to consumers or making any other decisions that would otherwise exist in a competitive market. As a result, those who have been charged a fee at an ATM may, according to the lawsuit, have paid a higher fee than would exist in a market free from the alleged illegal agreements.

"Visa and MasterCard's tactics have put a competitive straightjacket on ATM operators," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.

"Without the ability to set fees, consumers are left with only two options: pay these ATM fees which are higher than they should be, or don't use ATMs at all."

Posted-In: News Legal After-Hours Center


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