The supermarket industry is faced with the threat of seeing a dramatic increase in the hidden fees they must pay every time a customer swipes a debit card.

Grocery stores are the cornerstone of local communities across Connecticut. In 2016, the supermarket industry employed 3.4 million people in the United States and over 50,000 people in Connecticut alone. Investing in the communities they serve is what the grocery industry does. Every year, supermarkets are the largest donors to local food banks working to ensure everyone in our state has access to food. Grocers do this every day while competing for customer loyalty and trust on price, quality and service.

Unfortunately, the supermarket industry and other Main Street retailers are under attack with the threat of seeing a dramatic increase in the hidden fees they must pay every time a customer swipes a debit card without any ability to control that cost. The big banks and card companies are spending millions of dollars to convince Congress to roll back common sense pro-competitive debit reforms that have benefited our entire economy.

Last year, the mega-banks and major card brands charged American Main Street grocers and other merchants around $79 billion in hidden credit and debit card fees.  This year, these same banks and card brands are asking Congress to make merchants and their customers pay more and give them another windfall while threatening American jobs and increasing the costs of consumer goods for everyone.

The 2010 debit reforms introduced competition and provided some much needed transparency into a market where previously there was none. These reforms came at a time and provided much needed relief when grocers have had to shoulder increased health care costs, new mandatory federal food labeling laws, and burdensome regulatory reporting requirements, to name a few. All of these have added to the underlying cost of doing business over the past several years.

Instead of giving the mega-banks and major card companies another payout that will cost us jobs and harm our economy, Congress should investigate the broken credit card market and the lack of competition that has resulted in the United States paying the highest price in hidden swipe fees than any other country.  Connecticuts’s grocers and their customers are counting on our federal representatives to stand with us and against another mega-bank giveaway.

– Wayne Pesce, President