Visa-Owned Credit Card Processor Cuts Off Gun Shop for Selling Guns

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Visa Subsidiary Cuts Off Store For Selling Guns
A small credit card processor is taking fire after it reportedly terminated its relationship with a gun store, citing a policy against doing business with firearm merchants.

North Carolina's Hyatt Gun Shop says that it received an email from Authorize.net saying that it would no longer handle the shop's online transactions. The company pointed to its long-standing policy against working with merchants who sell firearms.

Speaking to Fox News, store manager Mitchell Hyatt acknowledged the Authorize.net was within its rights to terminate the relationship, but added that it "certainly seemed to be more of a political agenda than a business decision."

Authorize.net is part of CyberSource, which was acquired by Visa (V) in April 2010.

The company's terms of service page does indeed state that "You will not at any time conduct Your business in any manner that... is associated with the sale of firearms." But it's not clear how Authorize.net failed to notice that it was doing business with a merchant that bills itself as "America's largest gun shop." Perhaps it was simply a failure of due diligence, or perhaps recent mass shootings have prompted the company to do a better job of monitoring that particular aspect of its policy.

The conservative Washington Examiner favors that explanation, and pointedly notes that several Visa executives donated to the campaign of President Obama, an outspoken advocate of gun control. But that connection seems tenuous, as Visa itself has no such policy against working with companies that sell firearms.

Rather, it seems that Authorize.net just has unusual standards for its merchant partners: Its terms of service also state that it won't do business with companies selling "adult, sexually oriented, or obscene materials or services," and it likewise has an oddly specific policy against e-cigarettes. Those policies pre-date the company's acquisition by Visa.

Still, Authorize.net and CyberSource now find themselves the target of a boycott effort, with the website Grass Roots North Carolina calling on readers to complain to the company and avoid any e-commerce sites using one of those payment processors.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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