Let me tell you a little story about people and technology.
As far back as you can remember, machines were designed to make
life easier for us. They were supposed to relieve us from drudgery
and do work we didn't particularly like. The same reasoning applies
somewhat to computers.
Computers, the story goes, were ``smart'' machines. They could
take the place of people in certain jobs. Like bank tellers. Who
needs a human to count money? A computer-machine could do that, and
do it cheaper than paying a teller's salary and providing benefits.
These same people, bankers by name, figured that eventually
folks wouldn't need regular banks any more. We could do all our
banking at a kiosk or in a shopping mall or even in the grocery
store, using an automated teller machine (ATM). We'd get
convenience, and the banks would save money.
So they installed automated tellers, and they urged us to get
our bank cards and PINs (personal identification numbers) and use
them. They sponsored contests and gave us prizes for using their
machines. And slowly, we did begin to use them. Last year, there
were more than 3.5 billion ATM transactions.
To many people, automated teller machine use became an integral
and convenient part of their banking habits. They became so popular
that instead of lines at the teller windows, there are now lines in
front of the machines.
So what did the banks decide to do? Start charging us a fee for
using the machines that they installed to make banking easier - and
But now it seems they've found out that it's more expensive to
operate the machines than they thought. In fact, one banker
estimates that a single authomated teller machine, including
purchase or lease price, maintenance, software, telephone lines,
equipment and security, costs between $35,000 and $65,000 a year to
Gosh, I think a human teller might be cheaper.
So, folks, we're going to get charged for our automated teller
machine transactions. Do you know if you're paying fees? The
quickest way to find out is to call your bank. If you're not, it's
likely that you will be soon.
Last year, more than 53 percent of America's banks levied a fee
on automated teller machine use, and it appears everyone's getting
on the bandwagon. You should know if your bank is going along for
Here are some questions to ask concerning your bank's policy
toward their use.
- Is there an annual charge to maintain a bank (ATM) card?
- Is there a transaction fee - a charge whenever you use an