To the Editor:
At the Mission Street Cafe in Geismar, Louisiana the most outrageous tax our small, family-owned business pays does not go to any public treasury. The tax is the "swipe fees" we and every other retail establishment pay to the giant credit card companies very time a customer pays with a debit card.
The swipe fees that MasterCard and Visa and their partner banks charge for electronically processing debit purchases are beyond excessive. Since 2001 these rates have shot up by more than 300 percent. Small businesses like ours need to accept credit cards to survive, but that puts us at the mercy of the credit card industry.
This abuse was suppose to have ended last year when Congress passed swipe fee reform. A bipartisan majority voted to cut maximum swipe fees by about 80 percent.
That still would leave the credit card people with a fair profit, but not the $48 billion a year in excessive profits these companies are still making from swipe fees.
But before the lower swipe fees could go into effect, the credit industry lobbyists in Washington launched a counter-attack. They now have bills pending in Congress that would leave the current high fees untouched and kill swipe fee reform by referring it back to Congress for "further study." I hope the Louisiana Congressional delegation rejects the credit industry bill and stands by its promise that we will get swipe fee relief.
Manager, Mission Street Cafe