DALLAS --(BUSINESS WIRE)-- In communities across America, 7-Eleven store owners and operators are undertaking an unprecedented, million-signature petition campaign calling on Congress to reform unfair and excessive credit card transaction fees.
Some 6,300 7-Eleven® franchisees, licensees and store operators in the U.S. are working to change the way credit card companies' do business with retailers across the country and are taking their beef to the street – or in this case to their counters and customers.
Interchange fees are hidden fees to the consumer and are set privately by credit card companies and charged to store owners every time that a customer uses a credit card. Transaction fees squeezed American businesses and their customers to the tune of $48 billion in 2008 alone. On average, an American store owner will actually pay nearly twice as much in transaction fees as they earn in profits, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores 2007 State of the Industry data.
"7-Eleven stores are operated by franchisees who represent more than 6,000 small businesses on Main Streets and in neighborhoods across America," said Darren Rebelez, 7-Eleven, Inc. executive vice president and chief operating officer. "This petition drive is a grassroots effort to get a fair deal, spearheaded by small business owners in the communities where they live and with the customers they serve every day.
"Interchange fees are hurting individual small business operators, which represent more than 75 percent of 7-Eleven stores in the U.S.," Rebelez said. "Because more and more customers are using credit cards for small purchases, there are small transactions where the operator actually loses money. The fundamental challenge is that in most business relationships, both parties have the ability to negotiate, and in this case we do not."
The petition drive takes place at all of 7-Eleven's U.S. stores, and a copy of the petition will be prominently offered for signatures at every check-out counter. At the end of the petition drive, 7-Eleven expects to deliver one million signatures to Congress, calling on them to stop credit companies from charging unfair, hidden transaction fees and to pass legislation empowering retailers to negotiate with credit card companies.
"We're not asking for a bailout, we simply want to negotiate in good faith with credit card companies in the same manner we negotiate with thousands of our other business partners," Rebelez said.
American consumers pay among the highest transaction fees in the industrialized world. An average of $2 out of every $100 Americans spend goes to transaction fees, and for many businesses, transaction fees are now their highest non-labor cost, growing even faster than health care costs. As other countries have reined in excessive transaction fees in recent years, and the actual cost of processing credit card transactions has gone down, Americans are now paying triple the amount in transaction fees they paid in 2001, reaching $48 billion last year alone.
Rebelez added, "In the convenience industry, credit card companies come out the winner making more than twice the profits of the industry in total. To date, we have been unable to convince these companies to come to the table to negotiate fair fees. In order to survive and stay in business, our franchisees and licensees plan to make a significant, collective statement with this petition drive. With this unprecedented effort, Congress will hear the message of 7-Eleven's small business owners and our customers across the country loud and clear," he said.
The 7-Eleven petition drive will continue through Aug. 10. At the conclusion of the campaign, the top signature-gatherers from each of 7-Eleven's seven U.S. geographical divisions will be flown to Washington to personally deliver the signatures to Congress.
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 7,800 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 36,200 stores in 15 countries. During 2008, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $53.7 billion. For 15 consecutive years 7-Eleven has been listed among Hispanic Magazine's Hispanic Corporate Top 100 Companies that provide the most opportunities to Hispanics. 7-Eleven is franchising its stores in the U.S., and is expanding through organic growth, acquisitions, and its Business Conversion Program.