Visa Inc. says Congress and the public "should not be fooled by the motives behind the petitions being delivered to Congress today by the CEO of 7-Eleven," according to a statement the card company released today. "This deceptive campaign is really about some retailers trying to take advantage of the public by having them support legislation that would ultimately shift retailers' costs of doing business onto consumers in the form of checkout fees, also known as surcharging," Visa said. The statement is in response to 7-Eleven collecting signatures from the public on petitions deeming interchange rates for merchants as too high. According to Visa's own research, 78% of consumers believe the value and benefits retailers receive from accepting credit and debit cards outweigh the costs of accepting them. By a 2-to-1 margin, consumers also say retailers should pay the cost of accepting credit and debit cards. Visa contends consumers clearly understand that retailers benefit greatly from electronic payments whether it is through guaranteed payment, increased security, acceptance, innovation or even store-brand cards that help build customer loyalty. Also, Visa says 83% of those surveyed believe that any savings retailers realize will be used to increase their own bottom lines and will not be passed on to consumers. "In these challenging economic times, we hope members of Congress see the retailers' efforts as nothing more than a back door attempt to increase their profits at the expense of consumers, " Visa said.  "If they are successful, we will likely see higher costs and reduced benefits as we have witnessed in Australia where free market approaches were rejected and consumers now pay higher costs for less choices and fewer benefits."  MasterCard Inc. yesterday held a press conference stating that a survey it conducted revealed some 80% of consumers who signed the petition "mistakenly believed" that consumers would directly benefit from a reduction of those fees (CardLine, 9/29).

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