[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Merchants please pay attention. A
'merchant' is defined here as _anyone_ who has accepted Visa/MC
cards in payment for a purchase at _anytime_ during the eleven year
period 1992 through 2003. If you sold anything during that period
of time, and accepted a credit/debit card as payment, then you
are a merchant, and you are entitled to relief in the lawsuit now
settled. Read on ... PAT]
WELCOME TO THE VISA CHECK/MASTERMONEY ANTITRUST LITIGATION WEBSITE
WHAT IS THIS LAWSUIT ABOUT?
The Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation is a class action
lawsuit that was filed and litigated in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, New York. The
Class consists of all businesses and organizations in the United
States that accepted Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards for
payment at any time during the period October 25, 1992 to June 21,
2003. The Class Plaintiffs claimed that, through their "Honor All
Cards" policies, Visa and MasterCard forced merchants to accept Visa
and MasterCard signature debit card transactions at supracompetitive
prices. (Visa and MasterCard's signature debit products are also
referred to as Visa Check, MasterMoney or Debit MasterCard.) The
merchants also claimed that Visa and MasterCard were attempting to
monopolize the debit card business in the United States. In April
2003, just as the trial was about to begin, Visa and MasterCard
decided it was in their best interest to settle with the plaintiffs'
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THE SETTLEMENT?
As part of the settlement, Visa and MasterCard agreed to eliminate
their "Honor All Cards" policies, which required merchants that
accepted their credit cards to also accept their signature debit card
transactions. Prior to this untying of credit and debit, they also
agreed to lower debit card fees for an interim period by one-third. In
addition, they agreed to re-label the Visa Check and MasterMoney debit
cards with the word "DEBIT" on the front and to do other things
related to the untying of debit cards from credit cards. Visa and
MasterCard also agreed to pay $3.05 billion over time into a
Settlement Fund. This Settlement Fund will be used to provide
compensation to Class Members, and will be distributed to Class
Members after the attorneys fees, expenses and cost of notice and
administration approved by the Court have been deducted.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SETTLEMENT?
You are a member of the Class if you or your business or organization
in the United States accepted Visa and/or MasterCard debit and credit
cards for payment at any time during the period October 25, 1992
through June 21, 2003.
HOW DO I PARTICIPATE IN THE SETTLEMENT?
Based on the Court's final order, Lead Counsel Constantine Cannon, are
now charged with the task of distributing the proceeds of the
settlement to all eligible Class Members. To assist in this process,
Lead Counsel and the Court have authorized The Garden City Group,
Inc. ("GCG") to act as Claims Administrator. The first step, according
to the Court order, is for GCG to mail Claim Forms, by September 29,
2005, to all Class Members that have previously been identified.
If you do not receive your Claim Form within a few weeks of the
mailing, but believe you are entitled to one, please call the
toll-free telephone number, above, or click here to request one
through this website.
The Claim Forms and accompanying Instructions will explain everything
you need to know to enable you to participate in the settlement and
receive your pro rata share of the settlement proceeds. However, if
you need more information, please consult this website or feel free to
call the toll-free number. Among the information contained on this
site are frequently asked questions, a detailed overview of the
calculation of the payment awards, personalized information regarding
your own claim calculation, the Amended Plan of Allocation, and the
expert reports setting forth the methodologies for estimating Cash
Payments (see the Fisher Allocation Declarations).
Of course, you may have questions that cannot be answered by
information on this site. Operators are available toll-free (at the
number above) to take your calls and answer questions related to the
settlement. You will also be able to leave messages for the Claims
Administrator and for Lead Counsel.
Lead Counsel and GCG are committed to distributing settlement proceeds
as quickly as possible. In fact, the Court has ordered that regular
quarterly payments be made. Therefore, the faster you submit your
claim, the faster you can be paid. However, in order to receive your
payment as early as possible, you must complete your Claim Form
correctly and in its entirety. Any deficiencies in your claim may
delay payment. Also, while you have the right to challenge your claim
calculation if you wish, please understand that the adjudication of
such a challenge may delay your ultimate payment.
Also, in order to establish a right to share in the Settlement Fund,
Class Members may be required to provide information showing that they
accepted Visa and/or MasterCard transactions for payment at any time
between October 25, 1992 and June 21, 2003. While you will not be
required to submit such documentation with your Claim Form, you may be
subsequently asked to produce such documentation to confirm your
entitlement to a Cash Payment.
Finally, it is your responsiblity to advise GCG of any change of
address after you submit your Claim Form.
If you have more questions, please telephone the claims administrator
at 1-888-641-4437. DO NOT telephone the clerk of the court, nor the
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: There were many, many pages as part of
the web site the claims administrator put up, including the lengthy
and complex history of the litigation, etc. The essence seems to be
that in order to accept VISA/MC you are (were) required to accept
their debit cards as well as their credit cards. Some merchants did
not the terms VISA/MC gave them. Walmart was one such merchant. After
two years of litigation, VISA/MC decided to settle the lawsuit against
them on this matter, but the court ruled that _all_ merchants -- not
just the big Walmart-like merchants -- were entitled to relief as
well. If the court knows about you, then you _should_ get the
paperwork any time now, if it has not already arrived. You can confirm
your participation in the Class and make other arrangements as needed
with the Administrators by calling 888-461-4437 on or before
September 29, 2005. PAT]