2018년 5월 1일 화요일

탐색: 미 법무부, 아멕스 카드 경쟁법 소송 관련

※ 발췌 (excerpts):

출처 1: American Express Fee Accusations Get U.S. High Court Hearing (Bloomberg, Oct 2017)

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case that could roil the credit-card business, agreeing Monday to consider reviving government allegations that American Express Co. thwarts competition by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to cards with lower fees.

A federal appeals court had thrown out the lawsuit, saying the U.S. government and 11 states failed to prove that the American Express rules harmed cardholders as well as merchants.

The Supreme Court's decision to take the case offers new hope to retailers trying to reduce the $50 billion in fees they pay to credit-card companies each year. It's a boost for Discover Card services, which says the rules undercut its ability to compete with American Express.

( ... ... )

While the U.S. Justice Department also sued American Express, it didn't join the appeal to the Supreme Court. ( ... ... )

The justices will hear arguments early next year and rule by June. Antitrust enforcers accused American Express of using its leverage over merchants to thwart competition from cards that would charge retailers lower fees. American Express's agreements with retailers contain an "anti-steering" provision that bars from doing anything to encourage the use of competing cars, such as offering discounts.

The Justice Department and states said the effect was to thwart rivals like Discover, which tried in the 1990s to adopt a low-cost business model, and to ensure that retailers would continue to pay high fees.

American Express urged the Supreme Court not to hear the case, saying the appeals court was correct. That ruling "protects a consumer'sright to choose how they pay, prevents our card members from being discriminated against and promotes competition in the payments indusry," Andrew Johnson, a spokeman for Amex, said in an emailed statement.

In court papers, the company said merchant fees help pay for cardholder rewards and and that antitrust enforcers failed  to account for those benefits.

"AmEx uses the vast majority of merchant discount fee revenue to pay valuable benefits to cardholdrs to incentivize them to obtain and use an AmEx card at that merchant rather than cards issued on other networks," the company argued. ( ... ... ) The lawsuit originally targeted Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. over their anti-steering policies as well. Those two companies settled{https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-10-04/mastercard-visa-settle-antitrust-case-as-american-express-fights-lawsuit} the claims in 2010. The case is Ohio v. American Express, 16-1454.


출처 2: U.S. District Court Rules that American Express Violated Antitrust Laws (U.S. Department of Justice, Feb 2015)

Attorney General Eric Holder today praised the decision by a judge in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York who found in favor of the Justice Department's lawsuit claiming that American Express's rules for merchants violate antitrust laws.

"Today's decision is a triumph for fair competition and for American consumers," said Attorney General Holder. ( ... ... )

The United States Department of Justice and 17 state attorneys general sued American Express, Visa Inc. and MasterCard International Inc., in 2010 to eliminate restrictions that the three credit card networks imposed on merchants. Over the course of a seven week trial during the summer of 2014, the department argued that these restrictions obstruct merchants from using competition to try to keep credit card fees from increasing. The civil case, brought under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, sought to end the violation and to restore competition.

The trial focused on credit card "swipe fees" which generates over $50 billion annually for credit card networks. ( ... ) Despite these large fee revenues, the Justice Department argued that price competition over merchant swipe fees has been almost non-existent and for decades the credit card networks have not competed on prices. Today's decision was rendered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

( ... ... )

The department argued that the principal reason for an absence of price competition among credit card companies has been rules imposed by each of the networks that limit merchant's ability to take advantage of a basic tool to keep prices competitive. That tool─commonly used elsewhere in the economy─is merchants' freedom to lower-cost cards. Now that Visa and MasterCard have reformed their anti-steering rules, American Express rules stood as the last barrier to competition.

( ... ) Examples, used as trial exhibits, of what the Amex rule prohibits can be found at http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/amex/amex-te.html.

( ... ... )

출처 3: San Francisco sues American Express for billions in penalties, restitution for merchants (Nov 2015)

https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/people-v-amex-01-us.pdf

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is suing American Express Company in a statewide consumer protection action over anti-competitive and illegal merchant restraints alleged to be "responsible for billions of dollars in excessive and improper coss" borne by directly by retailers and, indirectly, by all California consumers.

( ... ... ) Amex strictly prohibited its participating merchants from taking any step to encourage consumers' use of less costly payment methods, including cash. Barred from assessing surcharges or offering discounts─or even expressing a simple preference for cash or competing cards─sellers' uniform pricing mandates effectively forced all consumers to subsidize the high fees and generous rewards American Express continues to lavish on its generally affluent cardholders.

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