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BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Small business and retail associations saw victory in Vermont recently as the state Senate unanimously passed a law to rein in credit card interchange fees.
The bill contains protections for small businesses from the swipe fees, including a provision that allows merchants to set a minimum or maximum dollar value for its acceptance of a form of payment. The bill also would prohibit any requirements, conditions, penalty or fine with respect to the display of pricing for goods or services for sale, including a display for a discount. And it would give merchants the ability to decide not to accept the products of an electronic payment system at one of its locations, according to published reports.
The House still needs to take up the legislation.
The Merchants Payments Coalition applauded the passage by the Senate.
"Today is a significant victory for Vermont's small businesses and their customers, and we applaud the Vermont Senate for standing up to the big banks and credit card companies to get this done," Jennifer Hatcher, group vice president at the Food Marketing Institute, said in a statement. "The unanimous passage of this legislation means Vermont is a large step closer to demanding fairness, competition and transparency from the credit card companies."
She added: "Credit card swipe fees are one of the largest expenses small businesses face and these huge, hidden fees hurt small businesses and consumers at the very time we're relying on them to rebuild our economy."
Consumers for Competitive Choice (C4CC) also praised the measure, and called on other governments to take action.
"S. 138 does much to protect small business owners in Vermont and I urge the House to quickly take up and pass the legislation." Robert Johnson, president of C4CC, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this is just one step as excessive swipe fees are a problem across the country. There is much more that needs to be done to fix this very broken system and protect American small businesses from the abuses of big Wall Street banks and credit card companies. I strongly urge the United States Senate to follow the lead of Vermont's State Senate, and include provisions to reform swipe fees as part of financial regulatory reform legislation."
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