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Walmart sues Capital One to end credit card partnership early

Walmart is suing Capital One to end their credit card partnership agreement, alleging the bank fell short of its customer service standards as the exclusive issuer of Walmart's private label and co-branded credit card program in the U.S. 

According to the lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday, Walmart seeks to terminate a deal it inked with Capital One in 2018 "worth in excess of a billion dollars." 

Capital One struggled to honor its contractual obligations to Walmart, the lawsuit alleges, failing to measure up to its retail partner's customer care standards in "at least five Critical service areas" during a 12-month rolling period.

"Unfortunately, Capital One was consistently unable to meet the customer service standards required by the contract," the lawsuit states. "The [service loan agreements] are … essential to preserving the quality customer service at the core of Walmart's brand."

Capital One failed to deliver replacement cards to customers within a critical five-day period it was obligated to meet "99.9% of the time," the lawsuit alleges, and did not consistently post transaction and payment information to cardholders' accounts in a prompt manner. The lawsuit also claims the lender "admitted" it had failed to meet five of Walmart's service standards. 

Capital One is refuting its servicing issues constitute grounds for Walmart to end the companies' partnership. The bank said in an emailed statement that the lawsuit is part of Walmart's effort to "renegotiate the economic terms of the partnership" or "end the deal early."

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Capital One: No right to end partnership "mid-stream"

"These servicing issues were immaterial and cured by Capital One pursuant to the terms of the agreement, without harm to customers, the program, or Walmart," a Capital One spokesperson said in a statement to CBS Moneywatch. "Capital One disputes that Walmart has any right to change the terms of the existing partnership mid-stream, and we will vigorously protect our contractual rights in court."

The Capital One Walmart Rewards Card is a co-branded credit card that offers rewards like cash back on in-store purchases, according to the retailer's website. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on purchases for pickup or delivery, for example. They also receive 5% cash back for in-store purchases for the first 12 months they use the card with the Walmart Pay touch-free payment app, according to the company. 

The deal between the two companies is due to run until at least 2026, the Wall Street Journal reported

Walmart plans to offer a new credit card option to its customers soon, a Walmart spokesperson told CBS Moneywatch.

"In the meantime, cardholders should not experience any disruptions in service and can continue to use their existing Capital One Walmart credit cards," the retail giant said in an email. 

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