Business in Vancouver

Visa accuses retail giant Wal-Mart in Canada of dragging customers into unfair fight

Wal-Mart believes cost to accept Visa cards should lower than charities and schools, says credit card corporation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 1:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 1:45pm

Visa has lashed out against Wal-Mart Canada, accusing the retail giant of using customers as bargaining chips in its attempt to get an unfair advantage over other merchants in the form of low credit card fees.

Visa was reacting to Wal-Mart’s June 11 announcement that it was going to stop accepting Visa at its stores, starting with its store in the city of Thunder Bay on July 18 and then moving to all stores across Canada.

In an open letter posted June 16, the credit card corporation said it recently offered Wal-Mart one of the lowest rates of any other merchant in Canada, “but Wal-Mart is still demanding more.”

“They believe that their cost to accept Visa cards should be much lower than all other merchants—lower than local grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and yes, charities and schools too,” Visa said in the letter. “And they are using their size and scale to give themselves an unfair advantage.

“Now Wal-Mart has initiated a public fight—something we never wanted—and they are using their own customers as negotiating leverage.”

In a June 11 press release, Wal-Mart had said it was going to stop taking Visa because it needed to lower credit card costs to ensure it would be able to keep its prices low.

“Wal-Mart Canada pays over US$77.2 million in fees to accept credit cards each and every year,” the retailer said. “Lowering costs such as these is necessary for us to be able to keep our prices low and continue saving our customers money.”

In fiscal 2015, Walmart US, which is the parent company of Wal-Mart Canada, reported revenue of more than US$21 billion.