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WASHINGTON, D.C. – (Yesterday), the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ohio, et al. v. American Express Co., et al., a case that will have a substantial impact on consumers nationwide.
Last December, U.S. PIRG Education Fund—along with the Center for Responsible Lending, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and Public Citizen—filed an amicus brief in support of the antitrust litigation brought by 11 states against American Express. The lawsuit alleges that American Express violates federal antitrust law when it contractually prohibits merchants who accept American Express from encouraging customers to use lower-cost payment options.
In their amicus brief, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the other consumer advocates argue that American Express’ conduct suppresses price competition, which harms consumers who have to pay higher prices. This case is significant because it concerns virtually every dollar that Americans spend on consumer good and services, whether or not those consumers use American Express.
“Federal antitrust law plays a vital role in making sure that markets work for consumers,” said Mike Landis, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Litigation Director. “American Express shouldn’t be allowed to enrich itself at consumers’ expense by barring merchants from encouraging customers to use less costly payment options.”
“All consumers, including cash customers, pay more at the store and more at the pump due to the unfair credit card network practices exposed here,” added Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Senior Consumer Program Director. “Worse, if AmEx prevails, the lower court ruling could even enable dominant tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon to increase their market dominance without adequate antitrust scrutiny.”
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.
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