Dec 15 , 2010

Competition Bureau responds to CRFA complaints about credit card rules

OTTAWA--The Competition Bureau announced today that it agrees with complaints by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) and restaurant operators that Visa and MasterCard rules are "restrictive and anti-competitive."

CRFA took its complaints about unfair rules imposed by credit card companies to the Competition Bureau in 2009, and in April of that year the Competition Bureau initiated a formal enquiry, which CRFA participated in. The Bureau has now filed an application with the Competition Tribunal to strike down the unfair rules imposed on merchants -- including restaurateurs -- who accept credit cards.

"A duopoly in credit cards has led to significantly higher costs for our members who accept credit cards, and many of them have little choice but to pass at least some of those costs onto their customers," says CRFA President and CEO Garth Whyte. "Today's announcement is a very significant step toward a more competitive, fair and transparent system that will benefit restaurateurs and consumers."

The Competition Bureau is challenging the following rules:

Honour all cards -- requiring merchants to accept all credit cards from a specific network including premium cards with higher fees;

No surcharge -- preventing merchants from charging a fee on transactions made with Visa or MasterCard credit cards; and

No discrimination -- preventing merchants from encouraging or discouraging customers from using certain credit cards.

CRFA will participate as needed in the Tribunal Hearings and is hopeful that the Competition Bureau challenge will result in a reining in of practices by credit card companies that force merchants and their customers to pay for reward programs for premium card holders.

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada's $60-billion foodservice industry employs more than one million people in communities across the country.



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