NBC 7 Responds

Here's how to claim your share of a multi-billion dollar credit card settlement

The deadline to submit your claim has been extended to Aug. 30

NBC Universal, Inc.

Rodnia Attiq, owner of El Borrego restaurant in San Diego, loves introducing her family’s recipes to new customers, especially those lesser-known Mexican dishes prepared in her kitchen. She also enjoys welcoming back returning customers, some of whom helped name the restaurant more than 20 years ago.

“The people said, ‘Hey, I told my father to go to El Borrego. I told my compadre to go to El Borrego.' And I said, 'Who is El Borrego?' And they said, 'You are! Because you sell lamb,'" Attiq told us.

But there have been several changes since the business started in a driveway, including how customers pay for their food. Attiq said most of them now pay with debit or credit cards instead of cash, which comes with a fee from the credit card companies with each transaction — no matter how big or small the amount is.

“Many merchants know that this is one of their top expenses behind rent and labor,” Alexandra Bernay from Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP said. She was co-lead counsel on an anti-trust federal lawsuit filed against Visa and Mastercard almost 20 years ago.

If you own a business or have owned a business in the last two decades, you’re on the clock to claim your share of a multi-billion dollar settlement. 

“I started working when we were in those fast and furious discovery phases,” Bernay said.

She commented that companies worked together to set interchange fees, which is what they charge a merchant each time a customer pays with one of their cards. This can sizzle away business profits, Attiq said, adding that they pay about 3% with each credit transaction.

“For us, one day and a half of our working week is to pay fees,” she said.

Mastercard turned down NBC 7's request for an interview or a statement regarding the lawsuit’s accusations. Visa didn’t respond to any of NBC 7's emails. Both companies agreed to a settlement, which was finalized last year, but did not admit to any wrongdoing.

“And that's when we've been off to the races here, making every effort to get real money into the hands of these class members who have been waiting so very long,” Bernay said.

The claims process opened up in December, but Bernay said there is a problem. Merchants haven’t signed up like they hoped despite the notices they sent out. 

“If somebody is saying you're going to get free money in the mail it's, you know, I get it, and there's definitely more of a culture of skepticism that we've seen, but we're trying to push through that,” Bernay said.

Here is a step-by-step on how to file:

Scan the QR code in this article with your phone. Those who could qualify have or had a business that paid interchange fees to Visa or Mastercard from Jan. 1, 2004, to Jan. 25, 2019.

That QR code will direct you to paymentcardsettlement.com. Once you are there, click on the “submit your claim” button. Remember the deadline was just pushed back from May 31 to Aug. 30, as part of an effort to give merchants more time to file. 

“This settlement really touches every type of business from coast to coast,” Bernay told NBC 7.

That includes businesses with lesser-known Mexican dishes on their menu, like mixiote and huitlacoche quesadillas.

“I immediately started doing the application, and in less than five minutes, it was done,” Attiq explained.

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