Anheuser-Busch Steps Into Credit Card Transaction Fee Reform Battle

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Anheuser-Busch Steps Into Credit Card Transaction Fee Reform Battle

LAS VEGAS -- Anheuser-Busch (A-B) stepped to the forefront among consumer product goods companies by being the first to throw its considerable weight behind NACS' efforts to push credit card transaction fee reform through Congress.

In a letter to NACS' president Hank Armour, A-B indicated its support of NACS' drive to mobilize retailer and consumer support to pass credit card reform legislation that will provide relief from unfair credit card swipe fees, as they are called.

Commenting on why a CPG company would get involved in an issue that appears to be between the retailers and credit card issuers, Joseph Vonder Haar, vice president, convenience channel national retail sales for A-B, told CSNews Online generally a CPG company would remain neutral on an issue that wasn't directly connected to its business. However, the issue of unfair credit card transaction fees is an issue "that is so overwhelming to such an important customer group that we felt we had to take an active stance."

The letter to Armour came from A-B president David Peacock in the form of a "letter of public support," said Vonder Haar. NACS' senior vice president of government relations, Lyle Beckwith, confirmed receipt of the letter and told CSNews NACS "is thankful to have Anheuser-Busch's support and their recognition of what is good for the retail industry is good for all companies that do business in this convenience channel."

Here at the NACS Show, the trade association has already collected signatures from "thousands" of convenience store owners to participate in a new NACS Consumer Credit Card Fee Petition Drive -- a grassroots efforts at the store level to collect consumer signatures and educate the public abut unfair credit card swipe fees.

Just prior to the show, the credit card issuers took off their gloves and launched an unprecedented attack on their retail customers. In September, the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) initiated an advertising campaign accusing convenience stores of being self-serving in their attempts at pushing reform. The ads went so far as to accuse convenience stores of over-charging customers for products. The ads feature a receipt from a "con"venience store detailing purchases such as a gallon of milk "65 percent more; loaf of bread -- triple price; sandwich meat -- 50 percent more," etc.

The ads' timing seem to indicate they are a reaction to recent petition drives by 7-Eleven and Circle K to raise awareness of the issue. Now, with A-B possibly leading a new supplier effort behind NACS' efforts, as well as the results of NACS' own petition drive among member retailers, the battle is sure to get uglier.