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Convenience stores want debit fee reform

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by Brett Neely

American convenience stores are supporting a Senate version of the financial reform bill limiting what banks charge stores when customers swipe a debit card. The Speedway and SuperAmerica convenience store chains continue to collect millions of signatures to support the measure.

Dennis Lane has owned a 7-11 in Quincy, Mass. for over 30 years. Bank fees on plastic consumers use to cost him $2,500 a month. "It's my second highest expense in my operation after labor," he says, noting that banks keep raising the rates.

It wasn't supposed to work that way, says Craig Sherman at the National Retail Federation. "The banks have saved billions and billions of dollars by not having to handle paper checks. But at some point, they weren't satisfied with simply saving money and turned around and decided they wanted to make money on top of it all.

Trish Wexler, who represents the Electronic Payments Coalition of banks and credit card companies, says Australia put a similar limit on debit card fees a few years ago. "There was no evidence that any price savings were passed along to consumers," she says.

Lawmakers will meet on swipe fees next week and work on merging the House and Senate bills.

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