Island Businesses, Island Resilience, May 2024, Uncategorized

Class Action Lawsuit Offers Boon to Local Business Owners and Highlights Growing Concerns about “Bank Taxes”

By March Twisdale

If you’re a consumer, this article will offer new information regarding the growing push back against “Bank Taxes” designed to skim the cream off the top of local economies everywhere. If you’re a business owner, this article will point you in the right direction, should you wish to submit a claim.

This topic is too complicated to be covered in one article, so I won’t try. What I want Islanders to know is that valid claims to get money from this settlement must by filed by May 31st, 2024.

Who qualifies? “All persons, businesses, and other entities that have accepted any Visa-branded cards and/or Mastercard-branded cards in the United States at any time from January 1, 2004 to January 25, 2019.”

“This is an historic antitrust class-action settlement that provides some relief for U.S. merchants after years of paying allegedly inflated Visa and Mastercard interchange fees,” said K. Craig Wildfang, of Robins Kaplan LLP, co-counsel on the litigation alongside Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Berger Montague PC. (Source: PR Newswire)

“‘The case has been winding its way through the court system for nearly 20 years. Now we look forward to helping class members with the claims process and getting the benefits of the settlement into their hands,’ said Alexandra Bernay, partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.”

I stumbled upon the above while researching the topic of “surcharges.” Across the country (and the world), businesses are seeking to escape “transaction fees” by encouraging cash and/or passing fees back to plastic-using consumers.

According to a excellent and detailed article written by “Clearly Payments” for business owners, titled Charging Customers for Credit Card Fees (aka Surcharging), approximately 20% of businesses have already implemented a system that passes “credit card processing fees/transaction fees” directly back to plastic-using customers. Yes, twenty percent!

Remember that next time you’re in Seattle and have the misfortune to run into a “no cash accepted” business. It may feel like we’re inevitably sliding in that direction, but the reality is far different. Cash is becoming more and more appreciated and sought after by businesses and consumers alike.

A CNN Business article explains one of the effects of this groundbreaking lawsuit: The settlement gives merchants the ability to impose surcharges on customers, depending on what kind of Visa or Mastercard card they use. Those surcharges would likely hit cardholders who get rewards such as cash back and airline miles, since those can carry higher swipe fees.”

This highlights the blunt fact that every person using a “rewards card” is reaping those rewards not from the bank issuing the card, but from the profit margin of businesses and the increased cost of goods and services paid by fellow shoppers.

The “Clearly Payments” article also answers a plethora of questions business owners may have regarding various ways and means, methods, and options. Their “pros” list includes: cost recovery, transparency, cash payment encouragement, flexibility, improved profitability, and adaptation to market changes.

Recently, David Hinchman of Vashon Print & Design reminded me of another important illustrative story regarding the “staying power of cash” versus the “diminishing effect of paying with plastic.”

If I were to spend a $50 bill at his store, and he were to spend that $50 bill at a local restaurant, and so it went for 100 island business transactions in a row, at the end, there’d still be a $50 bill circulating in our community. On the other hand, if we were to make those same purchases with plastic, after just 21 transactions, that $50 would have been whittled down to $25.

This is how 10,800 islanders have been losing millions of dollars a year. But, now we’re wising up, and we’re not the only ones. Big businesses and government have also been passing transaction fees back to plastic-paying customers for years. I’ve personally experienced this with Turbo Tax, Ticketmaster, and our own Washington State Department of Licensing. But the list is much longer!

Shouldn’t small, locally owned businesses be as protective of their profit margin and expenses as big businesses? And, shouldn’t we be encouraging them every day? Yes, and we do.

Vashon Islanders love their local business owners, because they are our neighbors and friends. We are tremendously lucky they choose to do business here, so we don’t have to take a ferry for all the goods and services that make our awesome Island lifestyle possible and enjoyable.

It’s important to remember, when Islanders pay with plastic, business owners don’t mind. We all know there are times when that is the only or best option. In those cases, as an aware consumer, we can let our local business owners know we’re happy to cover the transaction fee ourselves. By working together, we will keep Vashon Island’s economy strong and resilient.

To ensure Island businesses are aware of this Class Action Lawsuit and its rapidly approaching deadline, please share this article far and wide.

Quickest and Best Start for Business Owners: Go to this website and click the button to submit your claim:

Still have questions? Contact the Class Administrator at 1-800-625-6440 /, write to Payment Card Interchange Fee Settlement, P.O. Box 2530, Portland, OR 97208, or send an email to:

Editorial Note: Settlement details quoted or summarized from the Official Court-Authorized Settlement Website and the Settlement Long Form Notice. Visit our website to follow the various links.

May 9, 2024

About Author

march March Twisdale has called Vashon Island home for nearly twenty years. A lifelong advocate of independent thought, March believes there are as many right choices as there are people in the world. She looks forward to bringing inspiring content to Vashon Loop readers, as she's done for eight years with her radio show - Prose, Poetry & Purpose. Find her on by searching "Our Thoughts Matter."