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The BBC's Greg Wood
"The government was keen to dispel the idea that it was letting banks off the hook"
 real 28k

Trade Secretary, Stephen Byers
"The decision to recommend a ban on double charging should be seen as a first step"
 real 28k

Simon Williams from the Co-op Bank
"Charges are unfair"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 18:30 GMT
Cash machine charge climbdown
People at cash machines
Some banks say they will not impose the new charges
Banks and building societies have agreed to recommend that there should be no double charging for using their cash machines.

The decision, if approved by the members of the Link cash machine network, would mean an end to the threat of customers being charged up to 2.50 for withdrawing cash.

The announcement followed a meeting with Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers.

No double charging would mean that customers using other banks' cash machines would not have to pay both a surcharge from the bank owning the cash machine and a disloyalty charge from their own bank.

The five banks and building societies - Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Co-operative Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide Building Society - said they would recommend the no double charging option to the next meeting of the Link network on 28 March.

They also said that any charges would be hghlighted on cash machine screens by 1 January.

Mr Byers wanted to see that date brought forward.

There was no agreement on the level of cash machine charges or disloyalty charges which some banks already levy.

Lloyds TSB was not at the meeting with Mr Byers despite having been invited. A spokeswoman said: "It was never our intention to attend today's meeting. "We have been in regular talks with the DTI and have made our position clear."

Charges illegal?

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have said double charging may be illegal under the new stricter competition laws introduced on 1 March.

OFT Director General John Bridgeman wrote to the Link group on Friday, warning that "double charging by ... surcharges and issuing-bank disloyalty fees ... seems to me impossible to justify".

Cash with your beer

The meeting comes as brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle said it was extending its cash back facility to 80% of its 2,600 pubs and restaurants in the UK.

The outlets selected to offer the facility will include country pubs and those that are not close to bank cash machines.

Scottish & Newcastle first introduced cash back in Norfolk in 1998 before launching it in 500 pubs. It recognised the particular problem of a lack of cash machines in rural areas.

Under the scheme customers spending 2 or more can use the cash back service free of charge to withdraw up to 50 from their account.

A number of other breweries also offer a cash back service.

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See also:

03 Mar 00 |  Business
Banks backtrack on charges
01 Mar 00 |  Business
Government condemns bank charges
25 Feb 00 |  Business
Cash machine charges slammed
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