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The Minnesota Twins are suing Visa and Mastercard

Feb 10, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

Twins logo

Baseball is a business just like any other. And just like many other businesses — millions of them, in fact — baseball teams feel like the credit card companies hold them hostage by imposing fees every time a customer swipes their card. The Twins feel like Visa and Mastercard have gone too far in this regard:

The Minnesota Twins hit Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. with an antitrust suit in New York federal court Friday accusing the credit card companies of monopolizing the market by fixing swipe fees, less than two months after a landmark $7.25 billion settlement over similar claims.

The new suit, filed by Minnesota Twins LLC and a group of Minnesota retailers, alleges that the credit card giants colluded with banks that carried their credit cards to keep swipe fees high and to keep information about those fees from consumers. Visa and MasterCard also prevented retailers from incentivizing customers to use cards with lower fees, according to the complaint.

This sort of arrangement was recently the subject of one of the largest class action settlements in history. Now baseball teams are getting in on it too.

If they’re not successful, look for hastily-created “cash only” signs written in magic marker on torn cardboard at a ticket window near you.

  1. El Bravo - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    They should start accepting bitcoins for beer and dogs. The bitcoins will be real, tangible coints, but the dogs and beers will be strictly e-beers and e-dogs.

    • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      I think you got a couple of thumb harpies on your butt who have no idea what you’re talking about. But that was very, very funny. By the way, I own some property in Colorado that my geologist friend tells me might have a rich vein of bitcoin worth digging out. I can get you in on the uppermost strata for a relatively small investment*…..

      *I’d love to do a remake of Rodan in which the eggs are hatched by bitcoin miners.

      • vivabear - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        I thought you didn’t pay attention to the thumbs up and down Old Felcher?

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Failing to make simple semantic distinctions again, are we, sewerbear?

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        Deary me. ANOTHER serial troll, Mr. Gator? And this one has such a lovely and unique style too

        I’d look up what this “felcher” business is but I’m certain that at my age I really do not want to know. I pity anyone who does want to know and thinks they are clever to use the term. The state of mental health treatment in America is terrible, this much is obvious

        Anyway, congratulations on the variety and number of your detractors, sir. Many have said that the number of a man’s enemies define how great a man he is. You, Mr. Gator, are clearly a giant among us

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        My grandmother said the same thing to me when I was much too young to appreciate it. I had the misfortune of being a Mutts fan in a family full of Borg aficionados and had a cousin who picked on me over it. My cousin went on to become a world-class endocrinologist (the sort of evolution which I think it’s obvious will never befall sewerbear here) specializing in stem cell therapy for diabetes who gets paid a fortune to lecture in places like Sydney and Beijing, and the son of a bitch still gives me a hard time about the Mutts. He’s blissfully oblivious to my having moved permanently to Macondo and rooted my anguish in the Feesh over twenty years ago.

        The problem is, I think she meant enemies of substance. In this category sewerbear does not, alas, belong. At a Modern Language Association conference many years ago I tried to induce Gayatri Spivak to hate me, but after being forced to read her convoluted bloviations, would up hating her instead. As Ned Kelly observed, such is life.

    • jberlat - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      so you buy a bitcoin for $400 to pay for a $10 beer?

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        Arbitrage the sucker.

  2. robe445 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Ironic that a MLB team, that very clearly colludes with vendors to charge beverage and food prices well above a typical margin within their stadiums, would sue Visa and MasterCard – alleging they’re conspiring to charge unfair margins on swipe fees. The only difference being that this is at least the third suit against the card companies (after having paid out billions back to the merchants). Hypocrites.

    • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Nope, just late capitalism at work. “Hypocrisy” isn’t even relevant to finance at this level anymore.

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        i’m not sold on the theory of late capitalism devolving into oligarchy, as you’ve expressed elsewhere. i don’t think life follows a causative pathway. but you sure are right about hypocrisy not being relevant to high finance. one wonders if the pohlad heirs don’t own some of the “colluding banks”

      • paperlions - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        The US has never had a capitalistic economic system….it has always been about creating and sustaining monopolies by wielding financial and political power. Capitalism benefits the consumer by ensuring competition to keep quality high and prices low…..what we have is a system that benefits business by preventing competition so that quality is irrelevant and prices are high.

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        I would say that it has already devolved into oligarchy – Citizen’s United being a classic example of Stephen Jay Gould’s idea of “punctuated equilibrium” applied to economics (which is permissible since Darwin himself based the natural selection aspect of evolution on Spencer’s economic theory; think of this as a sort of theoretical homecoming). The next stage is plutocracy, which is just around the corner (ask any Greek), and then, ohboy, revolution (wardrobe malfunctions galore at halftime)! There will doubtless be a protracted episode of famine once the market collapses, so stock up on popcorn now.

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        no large polity has ever had any pure economic system of any kind. “capitalism”, “socialism”, “marxism”, are all Utopian abstractions which have never in fact existed anywhere. much like the fiction of “race” they are ideological inventions, supporting the preferences and privileges of their inventors.

        our current system (american), may be termed as accurately as any other way as the lack thereof, like the health care “system” prior to the affordable care act. it’s components are thrashing and striving respective interest groups and the outcomes of their interactions are just the way the cookie crumbles, not a chosen much less designed one.

        as for a political – economic apocalypse, be brave. we are bumbling our way forward, as ever.

        now if only our local oligarch, be pleaseth to make mirth for his minions by signing stephen drew, i twill be placid.

      • robe445 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        You’re right, you can attribute some of this behavior to late capitalism. But that doesn’t mean its not hypocritical to sue a company for a business practice that you engage in. Call the system whatever you want, but the action within the system is still hypocrisy.

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        No one said it wasn’t hypocrisy. We just agreed that hypocrisy as a concept was irrelevant in this economic environment. Gordon Gekko would agree.

      • vivabear - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        Old Felcher – everyone can defer to you regarding all things hypocrisy. You are the ultimate hypocrite.

      • Old Gator - Feb 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        sewerbear – everyone can defer to you in the matter of all things pornographic, juvenile, dim and ill-bred. You are the master of lowlife.

    • jberlat - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      you don’t have to buy food or beverages. Nobody is forcing you to eat at a game.

      • raysfan1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Nobody in MLB forces anyone to pay for tickets with a credit card nor is MLB forced to accept credit cards either.

        It’s still amusing to watch a business entity that is in fact a monopoly and which has been guilty of collusion (see the collusion cases brought by the MLBPA) on multiple occasions sue someone else for colluding against them.

  3. tmhofficial - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Alright Twins, something you can actually win in 2014! I like the strategy.

    A Twins Fan

  4. DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Of course, go to the Twins site to buy a Ticket, and you are hit with a $3.50 “Convenience Fee” (never mind that it took 11 clicks to “conveniently” buy the ticket), plus a $3.50 order fee

    • jberlat - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      that is a ticketmaster issue, not a Visa issue.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        I understand what you are saying, but with all due respect – it’s a Twins issue. And a Phillies issue. And a Nationals issue, Mets issue, Marlins issue…..

  5. NatsLady - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Gonna have to order tickets online for Cubs and Brewers (and maybe Twins) games this summer. I really hate paying those fees.

    Usually, I wander over to the box office on Thursday or Fridays when the weekend weather forecasts are up… a mid-morning trip by the Tidal Basin, “window-shopping” at the team store… yep, puts me in the mood.

    • jberlat - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      Convenience fees and handling fees are different. But most of that is the merchant passing on the cost .

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Hey – at least no one is banning you from buying the tix :)

  6. jberlat - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    the banks actually have no say in the rates and they get very little but take on the risk of people not paying. Visa has to pay for all those rewards cards so it gets passed onto the merchants.

  7. kopy - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    This Twins fan buys his tickets with cash for far below face value from the friendly scalpers on 1st Avenue anyway. That will only change if the team becomes successful.

  8. jdillydawg - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    I just became a Twins fan.

    Although, I do love the irony that a team from MLB – basically a sanctioned monopoly – is suing another company for monopolisitic practices.

    Regardless, credit cards and their fees suck.

    Go Twins.

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