Ricker Oil, Thorntons Join Opposition to Swipe Fee Deal

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Ricker Oil, Thorntons Join Opposition to Swipe Fee Deal


ANDERSON, Ind. -- It has been less than month since a proposed settlement in a swipe fee lawsuit dating back to 2006 made headlines. However, the list of those against the deal with Visa Inc., MasterCard and other financial institutions continues to grow -- with Jay Ricker at Ricker Oil Co. and Thorntons joining the ranks.

According to The Herald Bulletin, the owner of Ricker Oil Co. said the settlement is a boon to the credit card companies and banks, but not for retailers and consumers. "Ricker Oil Co.'s primary goal is to provide great service at a fair price to our customers. Continuing to battle the unfair rules and fees from credit card companies is just one of many things we're doing to keep that goal intact," said Ricker in a statement.

Others raising objections to the July 13 deal -- which reportedly tops $7.2 billion -- include NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing," the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. Ricker previously served as chairman of NACS from 2009 to 2010.

According to the news report, Ricker asked rhetorically how retailers could turn down $7.2 billion. He said the process of setting swipe fees needs to be transparent. He added that swipe fees are higher in the United States than anywhere in the world, and questioned why that is since the United States has better technology to process transactions. Australia, he said, pays a quarter of the fees this country does.

"Visa is everywhere," Ricker said. "How come rates are so much lower in other countries?"

As part of the settlement, the credit card companies would allow retailers to pass the swipe fees onto consumers. Currently, Ricker said, retailers can't do that, not by any law but because credit card companies prohibit the practice. Ricker said the "Visa police" keep track of retailers passing costs to consumers and could deny their card being used at outlets that don't comply, the report added.

And in a statement released late last week, Thorntons said the proposed settlement "does not make meaningful changes to the broken credit card swipe fee market and it broadly restricts merchants' rights to challenge the card industry's anticompetitive practices in the future."

The company also urged everyone in the merchant community "to work toward a real solution to the problem caused by credit card companies' anticompetitive conduct."

Ricker Oil Co. owns and operates 50 convenience stores under the Ricker's banner. The stores are known in the central Indiana region for its Ricker Pop fountain drinks. Thorntons operates 165 convenience and gas stores, car washes and travel plazas in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.