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    7-Eleven's DePinto Urges Action on Unfair Credit Card Fees

    Largest c-store retailer encourages its franchisees to make their voices heard in Congress.

    By Don Longo

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto added his voice to the chorus of retailers calling for passage of legislation aimed at bringing them some relief to the problem of soaring credit card transaction fees. In an interview with CSNews Online Friday, DePinto called on all c-store retailers to take on the credit card companies by supporting HR 5546, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, which has bipartisan backing in the House of Representatives.

    According to the Merchants Payment Coalition (MPC), nearly $2 of every $100 American consumers spend using credit cards goes directly to the credit card industry through the interchange fee. In 2006 alone, America consumers paid over $36 billion in credit card interchange fees. Even consumers who don't use plastic pay more through higher prices, according to MPC, which gets financial support from a number of retail trade associations and individual retailers, including 7-Eleven.

    C-store retailers paid more than $7 billion in interchange fees to the major credit card companies last year, twice the amount of profit the industry generated, according to the Convenience Store News Industry Report.

    The Credit Card Fair Fee act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers and several other co-sponsors, would amend antitrust laws to "ensure competitive market-based rates and terms for merchants' access to electronic payment systems." With a combined market share of about 80 percent, Visa and MasterCard are the prime targets of the legislation.

    "We're big believers in free enterprise," DePinto told CSNews Online, "but we also believe companies should earn a fair profit." DePinto said that 7-Eleven has been giving information to all of its franchisees about the bill and encouraging them to write to their legislatures.

    "Because we have a large group of franchisees at the local level, we sent out correspondence to them to let them know to contact their congressmen, and to let them know how it is affecting the 7-Eleven business as well as consumers," he said.

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