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As a New York judge prepares to hear summary judgment arguments today in the class action antitrust suit brought against Visa and MasterCard by Wal-Mart and four million other retailers, the two credit card companies have been forced to take up unfamiliar positions -- on the same side.

Reuters notes that most of the time, Visa and Mastercard are sworn enemies, competing in the same business with similar products for the same customers. But now that they are facing a fierce legal battle, they are finding that misery loves company. They have separate legal teams, but have been filing joint legal briefs making the same arguments.

Wal-Mart and the other retailers maintain that by forcing retailers that accept Visa and Mastercard to also accept their signature-based debit or “check cards,” which have a higher transaction fee than ATM, PIN-based debit cards, the credit cards companies have taken unfair advantage of their retail customers.

There is speculation that today’s legal proceedings could bring updated damage claims. While initially damages were put at about $13 billion, there have been estimates that a current damage claim could be for as much as $39 billion.

While the judge is hearing the arguments today, there is no expectation that he will make any sort of ruling. The actual antitrust trial is scheduled to begin this April.
KC's View:
Visa and Mastercard may be sworn enemies, but they’ve been using the same weapons and the same outrageous definition of what is fair and honorable to gouge retailers -- and by extension, consumers -- for years.

Throw away the key.