London: Some 46 million people in Britain could potentially benefit from a legal case brought against Mastercard demanding £14 billion ($19 billion) in damages for allegedly charging excessive fees, according to court documents filed in London. The case brought by a former chief financial services ombudsman alleges the payments company charged unlawfully high fees to stores when shoppers swiped their debit or credit cards and these were passed on to consumers in higher prices. Mastercard is alleged to have done this for 16 years between 1992 and 2008, in more than 600 pages of documents filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Thursday.
“This was almost an invisible tax,” Walter Merricks, who is bringing the case, told the BBC. “Mastercard has behaved disgracefully in this. They have not had the reasonableness to accept that what this was doing was damaging UK consumers.” Mastercard said in a statement it denied any wrongdoing. “We continue to firmly disagree with the basis of this claim and we intend to oppose it vigorously,” it said.