last week urged Congress to investigate ways to curb the increasing transaction fees for credit and debit card use. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, FMI noted that PIN debit fees have increased 267% since 1999, and there have been 11 credit/debit fee increases in the past 12 months, with more expected this year. "The cost of electronic payments is one of the fastest-growing and least-controllable costs of doing business," FMI said in its testimony. John Motley, senior vice president of government and public affairs, FMI, suggested that Congress look at efforts by other nations to cap these fees.
NEW YORK -- A lawsuit filed by New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs seeking $50,000 in fines from Gristedes Foods for some 200 offenses, including overcharging customers and taxing non-taxable items, is "nonsense," John Catsimatidis, chief executive officer of the grocery chain here, told SN last week. "Gristedes is not accustomed to paying invoices without proof or verification," he said. DCA filed the lawsuit last week after reportedly serving 335 notices of various violations over the past three years. However, Catsimatidis said Gristedes has offered to pay only for those claims for which DCA had proof. "We've never been found guilty of a lot of what's been charged against us," he said, adding that some charges in the suit, including "short weighting," were the result of manufacturers' packaging errors. "We're disappointed the Department of Consumer Affairs has chosen litigation as a means to resolution of a dispute."
ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Cees van der Hoeven, the former chief executive officer of Ahold here, is reportedly considering legal action against PricewaterhouseCoopers unless the auditor scraps a report saying van der Hoeven contributed to the accounting scandal that precipitated his ouster. According to reports, van der Hoeven issued a statement questioning the accuracy of conclusions drawn in the report by Pricewaterhouse, the firm hired to conduct an audit after accounting irregularities at Ahold's U.S. Foodservice division arose last year.
CINCINNATI -- Kroger here said last week its board of directors has authorized the repurchase of $500 million of Kroger common stock. The program replaces the $500 million stock repurchase program Kroger announced in December 2002, which had approximately $15.9 million remaining. The plan "reflects our confidence in the company's strategic direction and in our belief that Kroger shares represent an attractive investment opportunity," David Dillon, chairman and chief executive officer, Kroger, said in a statement. Kroger's stock price dropped last week when it announced a quarterly drop in earnings.
BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons here said last week it will launch a "fresh rescue" program in each of its operating areas by the end of the year to donate dairy and meat products with limited shelf lives to local food banks in the America's Second Harvest network. The company also said its partnerships with local food banks will help raise an estimated $100,000. In addition, it said it is joining with General Mills to contribute $200,000 to enable food banks to start upgrading their facilities to accommodate more timely product movement and temperature-controlled storage space for fresh products.