Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

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In a ground-breaking case that shook the business and legal worlds to their very cores, New York-based law firm Constantine & Partners sought to end a devastating credit monopoly that personally touched millions of consumers. Its efforts culminated in the largest federal antitrust settlement in U.S. history. In Priceless, author and lead counsel Lloyd Constantine relates the dramatic account of backroom strategizing and courtroom conniving during the high-stakes litigation. Constantine, who led the team representing the plaintiffs, vividly describes how the case pitted retailers against credit card companies, and pries the lid off dodgy debit card practices. The plaintiffs, including Wal-Mart, Sears Roebuck, The Limited, Safeway, and a class of five million stores, pitted their financial futures against Visa and Mastercard in this war between giants.

In the vein of breakout bestsellers like A Civil Action and A Confederacy of Fools, this fast-paced narrative, peppered with larger-than-life characters, tears open the case and shows readers how the more than $3-billion-dollar settlement came about. The riveting story features cameos by lawyers, judges, and businessmen, including then University of Arkansas law professor Bill Clinton and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The triumph is also a David and Goliath tale, in which a small boutique law firm beats four of the largest law firms in the world, including London-based law firm Clifford Chance.

About the Author

Lloyd Constantine is Counsel to Constantine Cannon LLP, a commercial litigation firm in New York and Washington, D.C. with an internationally acclaimed antitrust practice, where Eliot Spitzer worked for several years. He was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the landmark Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation, which resulted in a $3.4 billion monetary settlement and an historic injunction, which the court valued as providing upwards of $87 billion in benefit for U.S. merchants and consumers. Constantine was Senior Advisor to Governor Spitzer from January 2007 until April 2008. He advised the Governor on a broad range of public policy issues and directed the Administration''s initiatives in the areas of Higher Education, Local Government Efficiency, Public Authority Reform and the legal representation of New York''s poor in civil and criminal proceedings. He is the author of Priceless: The Case That Brought Down the Visa/Mastercard Bank Cartel.

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3.9 out of 53.9 out of 5
12 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Gray Taylor
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Taking on the Hydra
Reviewed in the United States on December 7, 2009
A great read into one of the seminal attacks on the hegemony of Visa, MasterCard and their member banks. Details of the obfuscation, outright deceit, delay tactics and business model legal-engineering of these famous card brands is astounding. C&P established the... See more
A great read into one of the seminal attacks on the hegemony of Visa, MasterCard and their member banks. Details of the obfuscation, outright deceit, delay tactics and business model legal-engineering of these famous card brands is astounding. C&P established the benchmark precedent for all antitrust actions surrounding the card brands today (C&P did not "kill the beast" only weakened it), making this book a "must read" for anyone in card payments policy and antitrust law.

Anyone who still harbors a shred of sympathy for these brands needs to focus on the evidence surrounding public deception to kill more efficient PIN debit (still happening today), conspiracy to restrict access from potential competitors and general distain of antitrust laws needs to read this book.

On the down side, Lloyd''s views on the how politics played in the growth of Visa and MasterCard are a bit flawed. While he contends Regan/Bush/Bush lax approach to antitrust lead to the growth of the monopoly, he fails to point out that most of the market power growth and restrictive practices occured during the Clinton administration. Sadly, this highlights the fact that NO administration - including Obama, to date - has been willing to take on the banking lobby beyond "show trials".
5 people found this helpful
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JEDrury
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Think: Terrell Owens in the end zone.
Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2010
Rare is the attorney who writes a good book about his success in his own civil trial. Daniel Petrocelli achieved it in "Triumph of Justice," in his civil damages trial of the infamous OJ Simpson case. Strong editing tones down the subjective in autobiographies or trial... See more
Rare is the attorney who writes a good book about his success in his own civil trial. Daniel Petrocelli achieved it in "Triumph of Justice," in his civil damages trial of the infamous OJ Simpson case. Strong editing tones down the subjective in autobiographies or trial memoirs forcing the preening attorney - all trial attorneys preen - to be objective. Editing is minimal in this book. With an ego "as big as the Ritz," to borrow from Scott Fitzgerald, Lloyd Constantine does not defy the odds; this book reads more like a legal brief than a good yarn. Bloated with too much legal procedure, and nasty snipes at other lawyers and judges, the overwhelming subjectivity and the lack of story telling ability makes for a plodding read. Focusing on one narrow slice of the credit and debit card industry, he misses the chance to explain this business central to modern day America. He is ungracious to his adversaries characterizing them as venal, ignoring for the most part the names and legal arguments of opposing counsel and, most inexplicably, insulting to federal judges. One appellate female judge who sits on a panel is fingered by Constantine as trying to date him in the past, another appellate judge is painted as a right wing ideologue and then the trial judge who just awarded millions in fees is accused of rank sophistry. The book only becomes interesting in the author''s analysis of the lode star considerations upon which his fee should have been awarded. In sum, a limited effort drenched in gracelessness.
7 people found this helpful
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Sandy Levine
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Informative!
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2015
Book is a quick read that provides insights into the evolution of the payments industry. Lawyers will also appreciate the behind the scenes look at the preparation required for a mega-antitrust case.
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A. C.
2.0 out of 5 stars
What JEDrury said in his review below!
Reviewed in the United States on May 21, 2019
I started to write my own long review of this book, but the review posted by JEDrury below is exactly what I was going to write. In short, the book should be interesting based on the topic, but the author spends most of the time bragging about how amazing of a lawyer he is,... See more
I started to write my own long review of this book, but the review posted by JEDrury below is exactly what I was going to write. In short, the book should be interesting based on the topic, but the author spends most of the time bragging about how amazing of a lawyer he is, and not in an informative or endearing way. The book would have been 1/2 as long if you took out all the patting of himself on the back that wasn’t relevant to the story. I wanted to like it, and there aren’t enough books in this genre that explain inside litigation strategy. But this book needed an editor who would be honest with the author about what readers do and don’t care about.
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Steven H Propp
5.0 out of 5 stars
THE COUNSEL FOR THE LAW FIRM THAT REPRESENTED MERCHANTS IN THE LARGEST ANTITRUST CASE TELLS THE STORY
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2014
Lloyd Constantine was the antitrust chief for the New York Attorney General''s Office for more than a decade, then founded a law firm in 1994; he has also co-written [[ASIN:1607146150 Journal of the Plague Year: An Insider''s Chronicle of Eliot Spitzer''s Short and Tragic... See more
Lloyd Constantine was the antitrust chief for the New York Attorney General''s Office for more than a decade, then founded a law firm in 1994; he has also co-written Journal of the Plague Year: An Insider''s Chronicle of Eliot Spitzer''s Short and Tragic Reign .

He wrote in the Prologue to this 2009 book, "[In 1989] I was just beginning to realize the magnitude of what would be involved in our attempts to break up the Entreé joint venture... MasterCard''s discussion about discrediting me suggested that what we had discovered, in a relatively cursory investigation of Visa and MasterCard, was just the tip of an anticompetitive iceberg. Moreover, the broader issues of what I considered to be the abandonment of antitrust enforcement by the Department of Justice... was a matter of great importance to the economy of the country... the Reagan-Bush officials at the Fed were fanatical believers that the market could cure everything and always deliver optimal results... The result was a great transfer of wealth from stores and consumers into the pockets of the banks and Visa/MasterCard. I swallowed my private anger against MasterCard, and proceeded in court with the Entreé case... The inside story of that ... case, which lasted more than seven years, is the subject of this book." (Pg. xii-xiii) Later, he adds, "That 1989 lawsuit... forced Visa and MasterCard to abandon their joint debit card operation and laid the groundwork for the Merchants'' case. The Merchants'' case was the contest that I had been training for all my life." (Pg. 10)

He states, "The overarching allegation in the Entreé complaint was that the new network was not really designed to operate actively so much as serve as an obstacle to the expansion of other fledgling debit card networks. Entreé fell apart as soon as we filed the complaint... the associations'' lack of resolve soon became apparent. I believe one reason their quickly threw in the towel was MasterCard''s post-traumatic stress, resulting from our discovery of their discussion about threatening me." (Pg. 25)

He explains, "The United States claimed [in its own case]... that Visa and MasterCard''s exclusionary rules suppressed competition from American Express, Discover and others by barring their banks from issuing American Express or Discover brand credit or debit cards of the cards of any other network that Visa/MasterCard considered to be a competitor... Our focus had been on how these rules injured competition in the debit card market." (Pg. 91-92)

He recalls, "To show the defendants'' contempt for common people, we showed another analysis prepared by Andersen for Visa... Over and over again, the analysis said that what was bad for consumers, stores and competition was good for Visa and MasterCard and vice versa." (Pg. 156) Eventually, "I accepted the fact that the case would settle. That night, the merchants, MasterCard and Visa signed short-form, but binding, memoranda of understanding containing the outlines of the Settlement. At that moment, I surrendered my plans for a beautiful trial."

He concludes, "At the moment that I realized I would eventually receive enough money that I never had to work again, I also realized that I must continue working. I thought that I needed to win the case. Though I''m very happy that we won, as I am happy about the money, I didn''t really need the victory. I needed the game, the battle and the stretch. I needed to have a case in which we needed to do, and did, everything. I needed the work." (Pg. 245-246)

Not always a "page turner," this book is still an informative look at the anticompetitive practices of these two companies, and will interest many readers.
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Nicole McDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating Case
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2009
I didn''t follow this original case in the news and was shocked by the length and intensity of the anti-trust case against Mastercard and Visa. Reading this book, I felt the lawyers'' exhaustion and frustration with this 15 year plus legal action that eventually resulted in a... See more
I didn''t follow this original case in the news and was shocked by the length and intensity of the anti-trust case against Mastercard and Visa. Reading this book, I felt the lawyers'' exhaustion and frustration with this 15 year plus legal action that eventually resulted in a win for Constantine and the American consumer. Priceless details the main points in the case, the lengthy litigation and the eventual outcome.

When I was first starting reading this book I was struggling with the legal jargon, but slowly began to understand more about this case and the legal system. It was definitely an interesting read, but be prepared for very technical legal terms. I looked up several words and legal concepts while reading this book to gain a better understanding of the case and legal action.

Priceless is not a book I would have picked up to read on my own, but I was glad I received an Advanced Reader''s Copy. The book really gave me insight on the true deceptive nature of the credit industry and the major efforts it took to bring down the Visa/Mastercard bank cartel. Not a book for a light, easy read, but definitely worth reading.
2 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars
Ok Legal drama
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2013
Priceless is an effort to stop certain business practices and alter the anti-competitive structure of an industry using US Antitrust laws as the instrument of change. Told in the first person, Lloyd takes us into the inner workings of the case that brought down... See more
Priceless is an effort to stop certain business practices and alter the anti-competitive structure of an industry using US Antitrust laws as the instrument of change.

Told in the first person, Lloyd takes us into the inner workings of the case that brought down the Visa/Mastercard bank cartel. Lead counsel on the case, he shares with us how he won, saving merchants and consumers over 87 billion dollars.

If you love legal dramas, you will probably enjoy Priceless. Sometimes all the technical wording became too much for me, but they are relevant to the story. Wal-Mart, The Limited, and Circuit City are just a few of the five million stores listed in the case. Mr. Constantine''s political involvement prevented him from sharing his story until now.
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WitSec
2.0 out of 5 stars
A Important Litigation Story Confined by the Author''s Limited POV
Reviewed in the United States on February 1, 2013
This book''s primary flaw is that the author---the lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs'' class of retail merchants in the litigation at the center of the narrative---has a surprisingly poor vantage from which to tell this story. Position determines perspective, and Mr.... See more
This book''s primary flaw is that the author---the lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs'' class of retail merchants in the litigation at the center of the narrative---has a surprisingly poor vantage from which to tell this story. Position determines perspective, and Mr. Constantine''s position deprives him of any real insights into his adversaries'' viewpoints or motivations. Thus, half the actors in the narrative are portrayed as two-dimensional abstractions, which does not make for a compelling story (at least not for adult readers).

Numerous reviews have thoroughly addressed the other major flaw of this book (Mr. Constantine''s healthy self-regard), so I will not belabor that point further. Frankly, this is probably an exceedingly common problem with biographic prose, and I assume that it''s usually caught by more engaged editors. Mr. Constantine''s mind-voice is likely no different than many of our own (solipsism comes with any success, if not with being carbon-based life), but it''s not an effective lens through which to tell a complex story set in a world populated by other real people.

While I didn''t mind the book''s discussion of the detailed procedural nuances of high-stakes, multiparty, civil litigation, lay readers could certainly find such details confusing, difficult to penetrate, and a disruption to the story.
3 people found this helpful
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Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale

Priceless: The Case that lowest Brought Down the discount Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel sale