Retailers sue Federal Reserve

Coalition says Fed failed to comply with new law

NEW YORK — A coalition of retail organizations, including the National Retail Federation, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores, have filed a lawsuit charging that the Federal Reserve failed to comply with a new law requiring it to reduce fees bank charge retailers when shoppers use credit cards.

The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, said that banks could charge a maximum of 21 cents when consumers use a debit card, down from an average of 44 cents per transaction.

The retail groups argue that the Reserve Board's rules "have allowed big banks to continue charging unjustifiably high swipe fees" and are discouraging price competition among credit card networks, contrary to the requirements of the law.

The lawsuit alleges that the Fed — under pressure from the banks and card industry — included costs in that calculation that were barred by the law.

"Doing so has deprived merchants and their customers of the full extent of the swipe fee relief to which they were entitled," NRF said in a statement.

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