By: Brian J. Meli
If there’s one thing to take away from the Supreme Court’s opinion last month in American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, it’s the renewed importance for small businesses to read their service contracts–particularly the dispute resolution sections–very carefully.
Italian Colors restaurant was a participating Amex merchant that didn’t particularly care for the company’s ‘honor all cards’ policy, which mandates that when a merchant chooses to accept Amex cards from its customers, it must accept them all. Italian Colors and others wanted the option of accepting Amex’s premium and corporate cards, but not the personal cards that subject them to significantly higher fees than competing cards (roughly 30% higher, as the complaint states). And so they joined with others to bring a class-action lawsuit against American Express, alleging the company was using its monopoly power to keep fees artificially high, in violation of federal unfair competition laws.