MasterCard stands accused of being a very naughty financial services corporation, and faces a damages claim of up to £19 billion. What for? The company is alleged to have charged retailers excessively high interchange fees for processing credit and debit card payments between 1992 and 2008.
According to Walter Merricks, a former Chief Financial Ombudsman who filed the class action lawsuit, these inflated fees were passed down to as many as 40 million shoppers -- both MasterCard and non-MasterCard users -- in the form of higher prices, meaning many of us could be owed up to £450.
"There is no question that MasterCard acted illegally in the way it conducted its business, a business that affects all of us,” says Merricks. “All of us overpaid to the tune of up to £19 billion during a period lasting 16 years. Although most of us did not know this, experts who study the retail economy knew it was happening -- and so did MasterCard.
“The prices of everything we all bought from 1992 to 2008 were higher than they should have been as a result of the unlawful conduct of MasterCard.”
Under the rules of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, all UK shoppers will automatically become part of the group of claimants unless they choose to opt out, meaning they'll automatically be compensated if the claim is successful. The case is expected to be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal, and a trial could start in 2018.
The company itself disputes the claims. [Mirror]