Judge in U.S. credit-card fees case assails critics’ website

Reuters | April 11, 2013

A U.S. judge on Thursday scolded retail trade groups for creating websites urging millions of fellow merchants to reject a proposed $7.2 billion settlement with Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc over credit card fees.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson singled out the merchantsobject.com website of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), which tells merchants to “take action” and says their options are to “opt out” or “object.”

He said the wording of the websites could prompt merchants to think that accepting a settlement was not an option.

“It’s not fair,” Gleeson said during a 15-minute hearing in Brooklyn federal court prompted by a complaint from the lead class counsel for a proposed class of 8 million merchants. “It’s completely misleading.”

He gave the lawyers for pro- and anti-settlement retailers one week to submit proposals on appropriate relief. He said he would not order the sites be taken down but would be willing to consider such relief as a website banner telling visitors that he had found information previously posted to be misleading

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