CRFA urges Visa to reconsider planned hike in credit card fees

TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - 
OPEN LETTER 
November 16, 2012 
Mr. Jim Allhusen
President and Country Manager
Visa Canada Corporation
Scotiabank Plaza
40 King St. West, 37(th) Floor Toronto, Ontario
M5H 3Y2 
Dear Mr. Allhusen: 
I am writing you today to express deep concern about Visa's plan to increase 
the cost of accepting credit cards in Canadian restaurants. Our members are 
reaching the breaking point -- the amount they pay to process a credit card 
transaction can be higher than the average industry profit margin! 
Currently, the average full-service restaurant in Canada generates only 3.7% 
in pre-tax profits, while the cost of accepting some credit cards can be up to 
3% of the total bill, plus the credit card fee on tax and tip: 


    --  On a $100 restaurant bill, the owner makes an average of $3.70
        profit.
    --  If the customer uses a premium credit card, a restaurateur in
        Ontario, as an example, will pay a credit card processing fee
        as high as $3.99 on that transaction  (3% fee calculated on
        $100 + $13 GST + $20 tip).

It is unconscionable for the payment industry to make as much off of a 
restaurant transaction as the restaurateur who creates local jobs and invests 
in his or her community. Adding insult to injury, the upcoming rate 
increases come at a time when Visa earnings have repeatedly surpassed 
expectations, prompting your company to double shareholder dividends and 
buy-back shares.

You may argue that Visa does not set the fees charged to merchants, but it is 
disingenuous to argue that fee increases introduced upstream to processors and 
banks will not result in higher processing costs for the restaurants that 
accept Visa. Simply look at what has happened since card fee structures were 
adjusted in 2008. Business owners have no choice but to pass these costs on 
to consumers.

In our view, an ever-expanding portfolio of high cost Visa cards is an abuse 
of the "honour all cards" rule, which requires merchants that accept Visa to 
accept all Visa branded credit cards. A challenge of these and other 
business practices is already underway with the Competition Tribunal. 
Furthermore, we view the unilateral introduction of new fees and the increase 
in existing fees as an abuse of Visa's dominant market position at the expense 
of merchants and consumers.

As you are aware, restaurateurs have already been deeply upset by Visa's 
publicity campaign earlier this year advising Canadians not to buy lunch from 
restaurants. In your response to my letter about that campaign you indicated 
that you want to continue to constructively engage with our association and 
our members. We ask that you reconsider your plans to increase fees and 
introduce a costlier class of credit cards and instead work with the Canadian 
Restaurant and Foodservices Association to help make the costs of accepting 
Visa cards affordable and predictable for all merchants.

Sincerely,

Garth Whyte
President and CEO

Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, CRFA Communications, (416) 649-4254 
orpvasanthakumar@crfa.ca.

SOURCE: Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

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CO: Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
ST: Ontario
NI: FBR FOD RES 

-0- Nov/16/2012 15:00 GMT