NACS Issues an Urgent Industry Call to Action on Swipe Fee Reform

“We are locked in a difficult battle and we cannot afford to be defeated. Retailers must contact their senators and urge them vote against the Tester Amendment. If not, all of the hard work we have done over the past decade on swipe fee reform could be lost in an instant. Losing simply isn’t an option.”

Those were the candid words of Lyle Beckwith, NACS’ senior vice president of government relations, who continues to lead the industry’s fight for swipe fee reform. NACS held a briefing with the media today urging convenience store and petroleum retailers to contact their senators to once again explain the need for swipe reform in the U.S.

Despite a landmark victory on debit card fees with the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the banking industry has maintained a fierce lobby spending millions to overturn Durbin, and they may get their wish unless the industry again springs into action.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he will seek to schedule a vote on an amendment by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) to delay implementation of rules that limit the swipe fees the banks extract from merchants for debit card purchases.

“Although it is unclear which piece of legislation Reid will allow the amendment to be attached to, the vote could come any time after June 6 when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess,” Beckwith said.

This amendment would delay implementation of debit card swipe fee reform for 15 months. It would require a 6-month study of the effect of swipe fee reform on bank profitability — not the effect on retailers, consumers or the economy. It would then require new rules to be written based on the results of the study. This is an amended version of Senator Tester’s legislation (S. 575) that would have delayed implementation by two years. He did this as a “compromise” to garner more votes, however it is far worse than his original bill.

No Time to Wait
NACS is urging retailers and suppliers that support the convenience store and petroleum industry to be proactive effective immediately in contacting their senators in one of four ways:

Send Computer-Generated Letters: This is the least time consuming action, and the number of letters received by a senator does matter so this is a good option for company-wide action. Send employees to nacsonline.com/swipefeesletter. From here they can enter their names and addresses and the program will automatically e-mail a letter to the correct senators urging a “No” vote on the Tester amendment. This is a new letter, so if you have already sent a letter please send this one as well.

Call Your Senators in D.C. and At Home: You will most likely be speaking to a receptionist (unless you know your senator personally and can get through to him/her personally). Simply state your name, title and company, and tell them you want him/her to vote “No” on the Tester amendment or any other amendment to delay debit card swipe fee reform. That’s all you have to do. Encourage as many employees as possible to do the same. Click here for a phone list of senators.

Fax Letters to Your Senators: While more time consuming than computer-generated e-mail letters, faxes are far more effective. It does not have to be long: On your company letterhead ask your senator to vote “No” on the Tester amendment or any other amendment to delay debit card swipe fee reform. Of course, any additional information you can add about the impact swipe fees are having on your company is extremely helpful. Click here for a fax list of Senate offices.

Schedule a Meeting With Your Senators Over the Memorial Day Recess Through June 3: This is the most effective communication. If you get a meeting, invite industry colleagues to join you. If you need talking points, please contact Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president of government relations, at lbeckwith@nacsonline.com or (703) 518-4220.

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