Mercury being sued by competitor

Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:45 PM

A competitor has filed a lawsuit against Mercury, alleging the Durango-based company uses “routine deceptive pricing practices” in the interchange fees it charges merchants.

Heartland Payment Systems filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal district court in San Francisco.

Mercury CEO Matt Taylor denied the allegations Friday, saying Heartland has a “durable pattern of using the court systems to compete.

“Heartland has been one of our largest competitors since we started this business model, and they’ve had a very difficult time entering the point-of-sale market where Mercury is the leader,” he said. “So it doesn’t surprise me, unfortunately, that they’ve taken to the court system to compete against us.”

The lawsuit comes as Mercury prepares for a potential initial public offering.

“It’s very well-coordinated timing from a competitor,” he said of the lawsuit.

Mercury also is building a new headquarters adjacent to Durango Mall in south Durango.

Heartland, based in Princeton, N.J., said Mercury “repeatedly and regularly engages in a practice of charging its customers inflated interchange fees without disclosure.”

It also charged, among other allegations, that Mercury imposes significant costs and barriers to changing providers.

Taylor said that’s not true.

“In this market, as competitive as it is, merchants vote with their feet,” he said.

He said Mercury expects to win the lawsuit.

“We emphatically deny their claims that we systematically deceive merchants, and honor our values of transparent and ethical business practices; and it’s one of the reasons Mercury has been able to grow so strongly,” he said.