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Restaurant industry applauds Senate decision to review card fees




March 5, 2009, Toronto – The Canadian Restaurant and
Foodservices Association (CRFA) applauds the Senate’s decision to review debit
and credit card fees for merchants. 



On Tuesday, the chamber supported Senator Pierrette
Ringuette’s motion to have the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
conduct a study on the credit and debit card systems in Canada, including the
fees charged to businesses and consumers.

The restaurant and foodservice industry, which employs more
than one million Canadians and generates just under four per cent of the
country’s gross domestic product, has been struggling with skyrocketing fees
for processing credit card payments and with unfair business practices.

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“In an industry where average profit margins hover around
four point two per cent, operators have a hard time absorbing credit card fees
that have climbed as high as three per cent,” says CRFA’s vice president of
labour and taxation, Justin Taylor. “And the situation is even worse in Ontario
where margins are closer to two point nine per cent.”

In the past year, Visa and MasterCard have moved from a
simple fee to a complex matrix system with different fees for different types
of cards. They have also automatically switched some cardholders to “premium”
credit cards which offer additional benefits to cardholders at no additional
fee but cost merchants significantly more to accept. 

Also, Interac has recently signaled their intent to move
from a not-for-profit entity to a for-profit one.  Merchants are concerned that this will lead
to the same type of jump in fees that they have seen on credit cards. 

“We hope that the Senate’s review will lead to improved
business practices and fees charged to restaurants that are fair, transparent,
and predictable,” says Taylor.

CRFA is a member of the Stop Sticking It To Us Coalition, a
group of Canadian associations representing more than 120,000 businesses that
have joined forces to put a stop to skyrocketing credit card fees.