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Local Retailers Ask Rep. Maffei to Stand With Them, Rein in Fees That Hurt New York Consumers, Small Businesses

For Immediate Release              Contact:       Taylor West

April 13, 2009                                                      202-261-2382



Local Retailers Ask Rep. Maffei to Stand With Them, Rein in Fees That Hurt New York Consumers, Small Businesses

During Tough Economic Times, Hidden Credit Card Fees Are Squeezing New York Businesses and Consumers; Local Business Owners Are Asking Rep. Maffei to Take Action


On Thursday, April 16th, local and national small business leaders will host a conference call with state reporters to discuss the looming threat to the economy posed by hidden credit card fees called “interchange.”  These fees cost Americans $48 billion a year – more than credit card annual fees, cash advance fees, over-the-limit fees, and late fees combined.  And most Granite Staters don’t even know they exist.


New York small businesses certainly know, though – every month, these fees eat away their razor-thin profit margins, at a time when the economy has already dealt small businesses a harsh blow.  Jim Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, has dealt firsthand with the strain that constantly increasing interchange fees have put on his members’ businesses and their ability to serve customers in the state. 


Calvin will be joined on a conference call by Doug Kantor of the Merchants Payments Coalition, a group of small business owners and retailers across the country who have launched a grassroots campaign to ask Rep. Maffei and his colleagues in Congress to reform the abusive interchange fee system. 


They will tell reporters their first-hand stories, and ask Rep. Maffei to stand up for consumers and small businesses by reforming the interchange fee system.  Rep. Maffei is a member of the important House Financial Services Committee, which is taking on credit card reforms right now in Congress.


Unfair and anti-competitive interchange fees are crippling New York small businesses and costing the average New York family hundreds of dollars per year.  The state’s unemployment rate reached 7.8% in February, the highest level since 1993, and 8.9% in the Syracuse area [New York Department of Labor].  The State University of New York system saw its budget cut by $215 million this year while having to raise tuition [NYU Local, 3/26/2009], and New Yorkers pay the third highest average retail electricity prices in the country [U.S. Energy Information Administration].  Interchange fees are another ever-increasing burden on New York families already struggling to make ends meet. 


Meanwhile, big banks, intent on bringing in ever more in lucrative fees, are engaging in the same kind of irresponsible, predatory lending practices that we saw in the subprime mortgage market.


Congress is trying to rein in other abusive credit card fees, but if they don’t address interchange, they’ll miss the biggest threat of all.  Simply put, Congress can’t fix the economic crisis without reforming interchange fees.



WHO:              Jim Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores

                        Doug Kantor, Merchants Payments Coalition


WHAT:           Telephone Press Conference Calling on Rep. Maffei to Stand with New York

Consumers and Small Businesses by Reining in Hidden Credit Card Fees


WHEN:           Thursday, April 16th, at 10:00 AM Eastern


TO JOIN:        Dial-in number: 800-895-1549, Passcode: NEWYORK





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