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Vermont letters outline interchange concerns
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (5/31/11)--Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), outlined interchange concerns in letters to U.S. Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week. Bergeron wrote a letter to each expressing “grave concerns by Vermont credit unions” about the looming Federal Reserve debit interchange control proposal that will become law on July 21 unless Congress acts to delay its implementation (Newslines Express May 27). Bergeron’s letters were sent as the National Retail Federation (NRF) launched a 60-day campaign, which NRF said will include a Washington fly-in by hundreds of business owners, an “aggressive media relations campaign,” and a nationwide print and radio advertising campaign, including inside-the-beltway print and radio ads that propose to spend “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” “Vermont consumers will ultimately be the ones who suffer because merchants have no more incentive to reduce prices due to lowered interchange than they would if they found a better deal on insurance premiums,” Bergeron wrote in the letter. Debit-card-issuing institutions will naturally seek to recoup any lost revenues by other means, costing consumers more in new or higher fees or lower rates of return, he added. Bergeron ended the letter by pointing out that credit unions “are not arguing for merely the status quo or to kill any reform effort,” but for support of a proposal that would delay implementation for 15 months while the issue receives comprehensive review. Such a delay would ensure that consumers and credit unions don’t get caught up in a “marketplace train wreck” and that a balance can be struck between merchants, card issuers and consumers, he added. Because the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), leagues and credit unions nationwide are entering a critical stage in the battle to ensure the best possible operating environment for credit unions, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney again called on credit unions and state leagues to maintain the grassroots pressure during the Memorial Day congressional recess and the weeks that follow by continuing to urge their legislators to delay implementation of the Federal Reserve’s debit interchange fee cap regulation (News Now May 26).

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