Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Consumers Resist ATM Surcharges

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Consumers Resist ATM Surcharges

Article excerpt

CHICAGO (AP) -- Consumers are finally rejecting the idea that they should pay for the convenience of getting their own money.

People are doing just about anything to avoid pesky ATM surcharges, according to a new survey. They're using debit cards to make cash-less purchases.

When they go to the grocery store, they get extra cash back with their change. When they do use an ATM, they're making sure it's at a branch of their own bank.

"Cash station surcharges have become a double-edged sword for ATM networks," said David Gosnell, senior editor for Bank Network News, which conducted the survey.

"There's a general consensus that surcharges have dampened ATM use and shifted consumer thinking toward using debit cards, but the industry has been slow to respond because of the profits attained from them," Gosnell said Tuesday.

The Chicago-based trade magazine found that monthly ATM transactions in March 1999 fell to 907.4 million, down 2.4 percent from the 930 million transactions recorded in June 1998.

At the same time, debit card point-of-sale transactions jumped 35 percent, according to the survey of the top 10 ATM networks, including Cash Station, Star and Interlink. Debit cards, which often look just like credit cards, work with a bank account, making a deduction for every purchase.

Many banks routinely impose ATM charges when a non-customer steps up to the keypad.

The banks argue these fees are necessary because banks must pay each other to reconcile accounts. They must also pay thousands of dollars on annual upkeep of the machines. Some banks also charge their own customers when they use another bank's machine, resulting in double charges.

Overall, roughly 66 percent of the nation's 227,000 ATMs in 1998 had surcharges averaging $1.22 each time a non-customer used them, up from 56 percent a year earlier, according to Speer & Associates, an Atlanta consulting firm to the banking industry. …

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