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(KEVIN LAMARQUE/KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
(KEVIN LAMARQUE/KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Credit card companies, banks hit with class action Add to ...

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against Visa , MasterCard and the country's biggest banks, alleging a conspiracy to fix prices charged to merchants.

Mary Watson, a furniture store owner in Vancouver, filed the lawsuit in the Supreme Court of B.C. on behalf of merchants who accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards.

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The suit claims the credit card companies and banks conspired to force retailers to accept all of their credit cards - even if some cards charge them higher processing fees than others.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The lawsuit did not state a dollar amount, but does seek general and punitive damages as well as an injunction blocking the defendants from agreeing with each other to raise, fix or stabilize their fees.

In addition to Visa and MasterCard, named in the suit were Bank of Montreal , Scotiabank , CIBC , Royal Bank , TD Bank and National Bank .

Also named were Desjardins, Bank of America, Capital One and Citigroup.

Capital One said Tuesday it does not comment on pending litigation.

Under the current model, credit card companies and banks take a percentage fee from the merchant that varies depending on the type of card the customer uses.

More basic credit cards have lower fees, while cards that collect points and other rewards often charge retailers higher fees.

The suit claims that merchants are prohibited from charging consumers more for transactions paid for on premium credit cards, and are forced to eat the costs themselves.

 
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