Retail trade groups who are unhappy with the $7.25 billion interchange settlement could be held in contempt of court and their anti-interchange website shut down. A federal judge made the threats in a ruling on Wednesday (April 24) after the groups failed to remove misleading information and add a court-ordered banner, according to Dow Jones.
"The merchantsobject.com site continues to this day to obfuscate the important differences between opting out and objecting, and it fails to adequately inform a visitor to the site of the consequences of opting out," Judge John Gleeson wrote in the court order filed Wednesday. Those behind the site have until April 30 to show why they shouldn't be held in contempt of court and the site shut down.
The retail trade groups covered by the order are the National Restaurant Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Cooperative Grocers Association.
Large retailers who oppose the settlement, including Walmart, (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD), were not named in the order.
The trade groups are fighting with the lawyers who represent retailers in the class-action lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and several card-issuing banks. The groups don't like the settlement that the lawyers negotiated and the court gave preliminary approval to, and they have been trying to recruit merchants to oppose and opt out of the settlement, in hopes of derailing it before final court approval, which is scheduled for a hearing in September.
The judge's order also specified in detail what notices and banners were to appear on the website if it's not shut down. The trade groups were supposed to work out those details with the lawyers within a week of an April 11 order by Judge Gleeson. The fact that they didn't—and didn't change the site—led to Wednesday's harsh ruling.
- See this Dow Jones story
Interchange Judge Orders Retailers To Change Anti-Settlement Websites
Judge may issue gag order for interchange settlement opponents
The Interchange Settlement: Cards Won