Bar owners rally against swipe fee

WASHINGTON, D.C. Local members of the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association traveled to Washington, D.C. this past week, where they met with members of the state delegation and asked that new rules regulating debit card swipe fees be enacted this summer, as scheduled.

Last year, President Obama signed into law financial reform legislation that included provisions to regulate debit card swipe fees and directed the Federal Reserve to make sure excessive swipe fees become reasonable and proportional to the actual processing cost. As a result the Fed has proposed new rules reducing the debit card swipe fees to 12 cents starting July 21.

But Wall Street banks and credit card companies are fighting hard to make sure these new rules never take effect.

“Ever since reform was passed last year, small business owners like me have been looking forward to putting the days of excessive fees behind and getting into a position where we can really grow and thrive,” said Jerry Gasber, owner of Gasber’s Fine Day in St. Clairsville, Ohio. “Unfortunately, we have had to fight the banks every step of the way just to get this law enacted I hope we can count on Ohio’s legislators to stay strong and see this thing through.”

The bipartisan reform legislation answered an historic outcry from U.S. small business owners who were fed up with swipe fees that have increased more than 500 percent in the last 10 years. Out-of-control hikes coupled with the highest rates in the world drove small business owners across the country to talk to Congress about this growing issue. After thorough discussion and considerable study, the verdict was clear swipe fees were excessive, and this was hurting U.S. businesses and consumers. Appropriately, Congress took action last year.

But the banks are fighting back, and legislation has been proposed in the House and the Senate that would delay reform in an effort to repeal it altogether. Unfortunately, any delay would mean business as usual for the banks which would continue to hinder the ability of small business owners in Ohio and across the U.S. to grow their businesses, offer better pay to employees, and pass savings on to their customers.

“These are benefits that are critical to our state and our entire nation as we continue to work to get back to full strength. I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with our state legislators in D.C. to ask for help in protecting Ohio’s small businesses and consumers,” Gasber said. “These fees have really been a drain on our local businesses and consumers, and the new rules will go a long way in helping us all. I hope Congress can stand strong with us now that we are down to the buzzer.”

Local members of the OLBA who traveled to D.C. included: Dick Allen, owner of Zeno’s Bar in Columbus, Ohio; Jerry and Nancy Gasber, owners of Gasber’s Fine Day Restaurant in St. Clairsville; Dave Grusenmeyer, owner of the Beacon Lounge in Huber Heights, Ohio; and Keith Jones, owner of The Paint Grill in Chillicothe, Ohio.