The Merchants Payments Coalition in January began an anti-credit card ad campaign in the Washington, D.C., area as it attempts to influence Capital Hill legislators and staff. The radio and print ads claim that Visa, MasterCard and their member banks collect billions in "secret credit card fees" from unsuspecting consumers during the holiday shopping season. "I grew up believing that if anyone stole Christmas it was the Grinch. ...But it turns out the credit card companies stole Christmas by taking a bite out of every present you bought with their cards," according to the campaign's radio ad. The coalition is running the radio ad on all-news station WTOP and in newspapers that are widely read on Capitol Hill. The print ads focus on interchange fees, calling them unfair and not disclosed to the public. "The rules of the credit companies say that the price that retailers sell products at [must include the interchange], so consumers, regardless of what form of payment they use, end up paying the fees for the goods-even if they avoid all credit cards," says Payments Coalition Chairman Mallory Duncan. The ads claim that Visa and MasterCard control 80% of the credit card market and that interchange totaled $30.7 billion in 2005, up 17% from 2004 and up 85% from 2001. The Washington, D.C.-based coalition is a group of merchant trade associations formed to address credit and debit card interchange fees.
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