Heartland Payment Systems files suit against Mercury Payment Systems

Princeton, N.J. -- Heartland Payment Systems has filed a federal lawsuit against Mercury Payment Systems, charging the company with false advertising, unfair competition, intentional interference with contractual relations, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, alleges that Mercury is illegally competing against Heartland with deceptive trade practices.

Heartland contends that Mercury is effectively misleading merchant customers by deceptively hiding its excess profits in the interchange fees charged by credit card networks and their issuing banks, in violation of federal and state laws.

The suit seeks to stop Mercury’s alleged routine deceptive pricing practices to secure new retail customers and maintain their existing merchants. The suit also seeks to recover full value for each merchant and prospect Mercury has taken from Heartland by deceptively falsifying pass-through interchange costs and other illegal methods.

The complaint also alleges that Mercury imposes significant costs and barriers for changing providers, falsely informs merchants that they are the only processor that supports their point-of-sale card swiping equipment, and falsely represents their company in commercial advertising and promotions as guaranteeing the best rate, among other charges.

“Heartland has consistently advocated for fair, transparent and ethical credit, debit and prepaid card processing and billing procedures for small and mid-size businesses,” said Robert O. Carr, chairman and CEO of Heartland. “The deceptive pricing practice of falsely inflating pass-through interchange fees not only constitutes unfair and illegal competition, it also costs even the smallest of merchants hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of their hard-earned dollars each year without their awareness. Industry-wide, the cost of deceptive interchange practices runs into tens of millions of dollars, and has caused great harm to the reputation of the entire electronic payments industry.”

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