7-Eleven Inc. franchisees and store operators have collected more than 1.6 million signatures in the “Stop Unfair Credit Card Fees” petition drive.
The company said it believes that total marks the largest number of signatures ever collected for a public policy issue on record, and called it an overwhelming referendum for Congressional action.
Thousands of 7-Eleven franchisees across the country asked customers to support their neighborhood stores by signing petitions calling for Congress to pass legislation that prohibits credit card networks and card-issuing banks from charging unfair transaction fees. The signature drive ran from June 22-Aug. 10.
“Consumer response to this grassroots petition drive exceeded expectations,” said Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven president and CEO. “Customers share our frustration over the hidden fees that American retailers and, ultimately, consumers are forced to pay. They, too, want Congress to take action to regulate these unfair fees, which are the highest in the industrialized world.”
Interchange fees aren’t transparent to the consumer and assessed to store owners every time a consumer uses a credit card. These charges result in higher prices, which are borne by all consumers, whether or not they use a card or cash.
In 2008 alone, these fees cost American businesses and their customers $48 billion. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) 2008 State of the Industry data, on average, an American convenience store owner paid 63% more in transaction fees than they earned in profits.
Credit card companies typically levy more than $2 in fees for every $100 consumers charge at American businesses. Convenience stores generally have smaller purchases, which typically result in much higher rates. For example, with the recently published rate hike by MasterCard, if a customer uses a MasterCard Pin Debit card to make a $1.00 purchase at a convenience store the charge to the merchant would be $0.20, or 20% of the transaction. This will be nearly twice the current rate. Rules set by the card companies require that retailers accept cards for all transactions. 7-Eleven stores are not allowed to set a minimum sale amount for card use, which would help them avoid these outrageous fees.
7-Eleven is bringing eight store operators to Washington, D.C. that represent the various U.S. divisions where stores are located so they can present nearly 15,000 petition booklets to their Congressional representative. They will also participate in a press conference on Sept. 30 at the U.S. Capitol.