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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 13:51 GMT
Should you be charged to use cash machines?

My bank closed its nearest branch to me, which means that I have to pay bus fares of 1.30 to visit their next nearest branch. If I use another bank's cash point, I am to be charged a "disloyalty" fee. Who has been disloyal? Me, or my bank?

Brian Ranner

ATMs were originally provided by the banks in order for them to save on staff and space and hence increase their profitability. They were not provided solely as a service to Joe Public.

Cliff Whitehouse

People in the UK could lose 1 every time they withdraw money from cash points. Do you think that's fair? Do you already have to pay to use the hole in the wall? Tell us what you think.

People should realise that the banks are not interested in people or service, they are only interested in profit. Anyone who thinks otherwise is stupid. Why don't we protest by clogging up the counters instead
Dave Morgan, UK

I think it's stupid making people pay to use different machines. Banks should put a stop to this.
Emma, England
The big four banks made an average of 2.7 billion pre-tax profit last year. It doesn't seem to me that providing ATM services is costing them too dearly. Do what I do - open a Building Society account.
Nick H, UK

I see no problem with being charged to use other bank services. However the ATM should tell us the amount of the charge that will be imposed and give us a chance to cancel the transaction.
Nick, The Netherlands

I believe that Banks should perhaps charge for use of electronic methods. However, I believe that they should be relatively low costs AND they should at least let you have some free usage (e.g. first five withdrawals a month free).
Richard Bywater, New Zealand

As many others have stated, banks should not be allowed to charge us to withdraw money, and if your bank charges you, change accounts. If all account holders threatened to change bank they will have to reconsider.
Suzanne Horner, UK

I've already voted with my feet. About two years ago I realised what a schmuck I was for using banks to hold my money. I got an account with GE, which pays about 4.5%, they even gave me $25 for joining. Now I only keep enough money in the bank to pay small bills and receive my pay check. Whenever my balance goes over $1000, I send more to my GE account or invest it somewhere else. Vote with your feet guys!
Jim Vinsel, USA

Banks have long since forgotten whom they work for. We should receive service from them, yet it seems they think we serve them! As they shift our money around they are using it to make more money, so why do they charge us? Should they charge? NO WAY!
David Burland, UK

I am a customer of Abbey National, and I already have to pay 1.50 every time I use a cash machine other than an Abbey National or Midland machine. Personally, I think it is a blatant attempt to make money. Their excuse is that they have costs passed on to them by other banks. I do hope that they are not seriously trying to make us believe that other banks charge them 1.50 for each transaction through a cash machine. And if they don't, then they should be honest enough to tell us the truth - which the charge is for profit.
Jonathan, UK

When are we in Britain going to realise that big business and government are ripping us off? The banks don't care about us 'Joe Public' all they want is to line their pockets with the least amount of effort. This government is no better (or the previous for that matter). The constant lies and deceit that we have to put up with is lamentable. What is the answer? All I can think of is that the last person to leave Britain 'switch off the light' P.S. It won't be me I'll be long gone
John Wainman, UK

Could someone explain why Barclays or NatWest should bear the costs of providing a service to customers of (to take an example) Egg, who have not invested in an ATM network?
Michael, UK

I believe we should NOT be charged to use ATMs. The banks have already closed numerous branches throughout the UK, and persuaded (or should that be conned us) to take up telephone banking etc., so I believe they are making vast profits at the customers expense (as usual!). How many staff have they made redundant. How can they charge such outrageous fees for their services, and now slap on a fee for using ATMs? Perhaps we should revert to being a cash society again, then the banks may change their policies!
Rob, UK

I do not see why people in affluent countries should not pay for services. Corporations exist to make profits, they are not benevolent societies. As long as the service is reliable, safe and convenient the user should pay. Also the banks should pay fair interest to depositors, after all, a thousand pounds deposited translates to about ten thousand that can be loaned by the bank at prevailing interest rates.
Tom, Australia

If they charge for atm's then go into the bank and withdraw for free. The branches will get busy and they will have to take on more staff to cope. I know this is sometimes difficult, but it wouldn't be long before they realise how stupid they are and revoke the charge.
Mike Allen, England

If you think the British banks are ripping you off and not offering you service try the banks in Australia! The charges here are quite ridiculous and I don't think they understand the meaning of the words service and customer.
If the UK banks do go ahead and start charging for ATM transactions then they are going the way of Australian Banks - DOWN! I already plan to move my account from Barclays when I return to the UK. Now it looks like I am going to have to really shop around to find a bank that will provide a good service with no charges.
However, I agree with a lot of the comments that it is not up to the government to intervene. It's high time that the British learnt to vote with their feet. Enough of the British stiff upper lip start complaining people!
AJB, Australia (but British)

I protest very much indeed. I wonder who will benefit from all those pounds. Not difficult, the shareholders and the top managers.
Carla Thompson, UK

I do not believe Banks need to charge for the use of ATM withdrawals. They have the care and use of most our money for most of our lives. They should be offering us better and better service in return. How many millions do they rake in by investing our money and keeping the profit that our money has earned them? Let them serve us, seeing as our money is serving them.
Martyn Tyrrell, United Kingdom

Having taken out a bank account when I started university with the Halifax for their excellent customer service when I opened the account and the convenient cashpoint in the student's union building (which proved to be my downfall on many a night out), I now find myself as a graduate living in a comparatively isolated rural area (about 10 miles from a small town) and with a vey limited range of banks within my village (but still more than most rural communities). My account is in credit, and is paid into each month, yet I am to be charged for the privilege of accessing my money.
Due to the time and hassle involved in moving banks, I, like most other people, will probably end up sticking with the same bank throughout this, and using things such as cashback to circumvent the charge. However, if it were not a "cashless society" where we have to be paid into bank accounts, and need one to function -- I'd probably end up resorting to the cheaper, more flexible and more trustworthy alternative of stashing the lot under my mattress.
Fay Mc, UK

To wait in line outside in wind and rain and then pay for your own money, and big brother laughing at us. What can we do. Nothing!
M Teague, The Netherlands

Wake up people.....Every time I see this sort of whining I am reminded why I am glad I don't live in the UK anymore...
Consumers should simply not accept this....if the banks impose a charge, don't use the service. Find alternative means....simple really and then the market becomes customer driven and not supplier driven. Oh but I know what will one will DO anything...they'll wait and hope for the government to do it.....what on earth has it got to do with the government??...unbelievable.
Mike, Singapore

If you have an account with, say, Natwest, why should Barclays offer you a free service? You would not order and pay for a CD at Virgin and expect to be able to pick it up from HMV! If your issue is that your bank cannot offer you a convenient ATM, it is a problem between yourselves not with a third party who rightfully should charge you for the service.
Greg Bengtson, UK

As a supporter of capitalism, I still think this is a scam. It is up to the bank if they want to charge people for using cash machines. If my Bank would charge me for using ATM then I would go to a different Bank. If more people went that way then the no-charge banks would benefit more than the ones that do charge. Hopefully then the Banks would realise that this is a bad idea!
Greg, England

This is a classic case of the Banks shooting themselves in the foot. Just as the internet is making it easier for alternative financial institutions to offer banking services online, the established retail Banks are doing their best to drive their customers into the new competition's open arms.
Ian Abraham, UK

OK, so I get cashback at a Supermarket. I already use a no-charge credit card, telephone banking (on-line soon), so if banks want to make their ATMs as irrelevant as their branches that's fine by me. It couldn't happen to nicer institutions. I simply won't subsidise the slow demise of banking's dinosaurs, nor will I pay 'by the back door' for fixing ATM security problems of their own making. I don't need a 'British' bank account; do you?
Mike Phillips, Germany (British)

If banks are to charge me for access to my own money, upon which they are making a large profit in the interim, then it is only fair that I should charge the bank whenever I deposit money with them. At what rate? Well that rather depends. My wages go in once a month, I tend to withdraw about 100 a week in cash. I'd be quite happy to charge them say 1% per deposit that is roughly what they propose to charge me for my personal withdrawals.
Mark Serlin, UK

Some people say "if you don't like your back, change it". That can be anything but simple. For a start, you need to find a bank with a cash machine near your home, which doesn't make charges. And one that doesn't make charges now may start making them soon. If you have a lot of standing orders and direct debits, you will need to change all those to your new bank. Possibly, a lot of letters to write and forms to fill it. Not so easy as some make out.
James Dennis, UK

This is absolutely maddening. We should start a nation wide campaign of boycotting ATMs and insist on going into the banks, this way we could put pressure on bank efficiency
Sean, Ireland

I recently changed my banking from the Abbey National to the Nationwide because I strongly disagree with these charges. If these charges do come in, like many others, I will have to travel 5 miles to use a cashpoint without paying fees. Alternatively, the only other option is to get cashback at the supermarket. I think such charges are disgusting and the government should intervene now.
Emma Bishop, UK

If my bank starts to charge me for using a cash machine then I will simply move my account elsewhere. Money talks (especially to banks)
Kate, UK
Pay to get at my own money! Ridiculous, as the bank is lending it and charging the borrowers interest on it. I'd rather keep the money under the mattress, or better still take my business elsewhere.
Lesley, UK

Time to start using cashback at supermarkets for every withdrawal. You have to spend at least a pound, but at least you get something for it, and you don't have to stand in the rain...
Duncan Drury, UK

No, I do not agree with paying to access my own money, why should I, if they started to do that then I would find an alternative way of banking. They make plenty of money in many other ways. It seems that all they are interested in is making even more money for themselves and it's not even as if they pay their staff that great a salary anyway. They are just being greedy and I think it's absolutely disgusting.
Miss Crowe, UK

The banks are unbelievable when it comes to charges. Not only do they make their money off our savings but also they then find ways to charge us for keeping our money with them. The ATM's are a further joke as they were introduced to reduce costs (which they have done) and now they are going to be used to earn even more money for the banks. Maybe the banks will charge an entrance fee to get into their branches next!
Matt, Ireland

If we all withdraw our money around New Year, then they will get very worried indeed. That is their greatest fear. That we all take out all our money at once. It is the only way to make these people listen to us. Otherwise they will always see us as sheep...
Duncan Drury, UK

There is absolutely no basis for this charge. Let's look what happens when you draw money from your own branch. The ATM contacts the "central" server which handles the deduction from your account, etc, which could be miles away. And when you are "disloyal" and use another banks machines? Well, apart from a small communication through VISA or Link, the handling, communications and so forth are identical. The banks know this is cheaper than having tellers in a branch, they know it's cheaper than clearing cheques, this is the whole reason they promoted ATM's. These are the banks COSTS; they should not be passed to the consumer. Imagine going to your local supermarket and being told it will cost you a pound to pay with your Switch or Delta card, but if you want to pay with a cheque, where they will not receive funds for 3 days, then there is no charge.
Matt, Netherlands, ex UK

Running ATM's costs banks a certain amount of money. They will recoup that money either through a direct charge for using the ATM's or through interest differentials and charges for other services. It's up to them how they choose to charge us. What is important is that they do not agree a common policy between themselves - there must be competition. Those of us who live in cities will always have a better choice of banks (and ATM's) than those who live in the country or in small towns.
Tom Lethbridge, England

Whatever happened to the free market economy? If you don't like the service you are getting - change to another supplier.
John Keen, UK
How can banks have the unparalleled audacity to speak of charging customers for taking what is in effect their own money from an institution which already makes vast profits on the interest they charge on loans and investments made with their customers money. If banks want to charge one pound every time a customer withdraws money then I suggest that the customer charges the bank two pounds every time they deposit money. This really is capitalism gone mad. What next I wonder - entrance fees at the bank manager's door?
Neil Ashurst, UK Expat in Ghana

I only withdraw cash for lunch and if I'm going out. I only take out 30 pounds at a time (I believe this is the most common amount). If my own bank decides to charge me to use their cashpoints, I'll just set up an account with another that doesn't and set up a direct debit from one to the other and get at my money that way. This way I should be able to incur costs to the bank and not myself.
Steve Kerr, UK

I think that banks are right to charge for withdrawing money, after all these companies have invested money in putting these machines in place. However, I do feel they are charging the wrong people. If a certain bank is not prepared to make the facilities available then the least they can do is pay another bank to use their services.
Amanda , Scotland

I think it absolutely disgusting that Barclays Bank are the prime movers in this scam. Are they trying to regain the massive profit margins they made whilst exploiting the people of South Africa. Banks have closed branches in order to reduce their staff costs and improve their profit margins. Now they want to use the situation they have created to further increase their profitability. They don't give a monkeys about providing a service. Any excuse to screw us poor sops who have to use them. I remember how disgusted I was the first time I was paid with a cheque from Barclays. They haven't changed.
David Large, England

While I am not happy about being charged every time I use a cashpoint other than one of the ones my bank provide, I would have been happier if I had been informed of this change by my bank. The first I knew about this new policy was when my statement came in and I saw the charges shown. Perhaps, in the bank's defence, I should have scrutinised newspapers more for news if the impending charges, but I feel that is a flimsy excuse at best. I always thought banks were obliged in terms of keeping customers happy, to inform them of any new developments that may concern their finances.
Tom Saul, UK

When I'd concluded business recently with my friendly customer service adviser at my bank, he asked me if there where any other services I require or questions he could answer? "Yes. There is". I voiced my displeasure at the move to charge for cash machine use. He explained that a lot of their customers had said the same, and that my comments would be noted. I suggest that if the banks try to push this through that the general public, where possible, boycott cash machines. I know I will!
Nic, England

Banks have got Joe Public over a barrel with yet another charge - surely it is time for the customer to receive some sort of service without having to pay through the nose.
Jeremy, Kent

What I find astonishing is that being a Link member no longer means that you can use any Link machine without charge. What is the point of Link?
Mark Betton, United Kingdom

Getting your own money out should be free if you are in credit
John Topliss, England

I don't see why I should have to pay for access to my own money. I am lending it to the bank, not the other way around. They should be grateful for my custom. If I have to cash cheques and get cashback at supermarkets in future, so be it.
G Martin, England

Let's all remember why the ATM's were invented to help banks make more money. With more and more customers using ATM's, the banks hire less human tellers, pay less salary, and consequently save money. If we customers are unhappy with the ATM surcharges, then we must all join together and stop using the ATMs. Let's go to the teller for all transactions. If everyone does this, the banks will have to either hire more tellers, at added costs or they'll come to their senses and remove any surcharges on ATM's, just to encourage customers to use them.
Atif Memon, USA

I have lived with ATM charges for quite some time. Due to the small size of my bank chain, every time I go to an ATM I always have to pay the insidious fee they incur. After thinking about how often I use ATM's, I can see the huge amount of money I have lost on the "service fees". The average fee in my area is $1.50, and the maximum at $2.50 per transaction. If you can stop the banks in the UK from starting this it. The banks are gouging us and making huge profits by of serving us "convenience".
Michael Little, USA

Rural communities yet again hit by policies that are badly thought out.
Mr P.Smith, England

Absolutely not. Here in the US I fume every time I use an ATM and pay a minimum of $1.50 per transaction (and sometimes more at a remote ATM). If the transaction is $20 - that's almost a 10% charge! I can't believe the US Congress conceded to the banking lobby and allowed this - especially since the machines are more cost effective than employing bank tellers.
C Carter, USA

I certainly would object to paying 1 just to use a cash machine, especially if it were at my own bank. In the US, banks can charge $1.50 per transaction if you bank at a different institution. Also, that other institution's can charge you $1.50 as well, bringing it to $3 per withdrawal, but they don't in general charge you if you go to another branch of your bank. People are protesting, and measures have passed, forbidding banks to charge the fees. The big banks have responded by disallowing cash machine access to non-members.
William Mulloy, USA

Transaction fees (including the ATM owner and your bank) are very common elsewhere. I was quite shocked when I moved to N. America to discover that it is standard practice over here to charge in this way. However my Bank of Montreal account gives me enough free transactions on other people's ATM's that I am rarely charged by them. On the other side, there seem to be companies (banks?) who are only represented by ATMs'. They have ATM's in all the useful places, like corner shops, bars, etc. Finance charges are how they make their money.
Malc, Canada

Each year the banks report staggering profits while it still costs me as much as $200+ per annum simply to withdraw money as I need it. Lining up is not an option given a banks impractical business hours and notorious lack of tellers. It doesn't necessarily have to be for free but how about cutting withdrawal fees in half? Otherwise it looks like I'll have to keep my money buried in the yard.
Eric Gardner, Canada

The Banks wont be the only people to profit out of this. If banks charge to use cash machines then people will take more money out less frequently and so muggers will know people are likely to be carrying more money around with them.
Pete, UK

A simple solution if the banks introduce charges for ATM's is; if the bank is open and you're not sure go in and ask. This will cost them more in staff costs than the charge to you for using the ATM. Make them pay.
Simon Atkinson, UK

Certainly not! As a woman living and working in London, from a security point of view, I do not like to carry a lot of cash, therefore my visits to cash machines are little and often. Having a bank account will become an expensive luxury I can ill afford.
Ann Hazelton, UK

No. I don't think it's fair. Banks and employers are forcing people to accept electronic payment of wages and other things. Forcing people to pay a pound every time they make a transaction is like taxing the basic fundamentals of life: access to your money
Mark Hathaway, Australia

Well if I am charged to use an ATM I will simply go to my local branch and get the teller to withdraw 10 every other day or so. That way I will be keeping their staff extremely busy and saving myself 1 on every transaction!
Dr. S, UK

The banks say it costs about 30p to process each ATM request - as a result, a charge of 35p would be reasonable. Charging 50p would be extortionate, let alone the 1.00 or 1.50 that is proposed. It's obviously, another example of Rip-Off Britain. We're all sick of it and it's time the politicians did something about it by giving the Monopolies & Mergers Commission 'Real' Teeth.
Richard Mottershead, UK

With narrow interest rate spreads it is inevitable that banks will try to identify any means possible for extracting fee rather than interest-based revenue from its customers. However, here is an opportunity for customers to vote with their wallets and cards. If your bank is aggressive, find another; it's not that difficult to change direct debit and other transactions. I have been appalled by the behaviour of the Halifax. Consequently, we have closed five accounts and transferred our mortgage to another lender. It only remains to close the final remaining account and to sell our shares (if and when the price recovers).
Chris Klein, UK

Of course ATM transactions should be free. In Austria where I lived for two years, ALL the banks share a common ATM network, not the conflicting patched-up networks we have here. Withdrawals attracted no fee. In fact, it's time the Banks paid more for holding our money in current accounts.
G Harrison, UK

Stop whining. Act with your feet. Move to free sources of cash such as "cashback" or move banks. Don't just moan every time something comes along that will make you worse off. Get off your rear end and do something about it!
Rob Smith, UK

I feel very strongly about cash machines charges that have recently been introduced by the Halifax. I live in a fairly rural part of Scotland and my nearest machine is a link machine. I now feel I cannot get at my money without incurring about 20 worth of charges per month for using this machine. Halifax have very few cash machines in Scotland in fact nationally they also have very few machines. They should'nt be allowed to get away with this. They should provide more cash machines or drop this charge. Everyone should be protesting about this and the government should intervene.
Maureen Reid, UK

Why can't the cash point machines all be put into Cash Point Machines plc and supermarkets, post offices, railway stations etc, be invited to join in. The banks and building societies can regain their capital value of the machines that they put into the system and then get charged for the number of times the machines are used by their customers. They then have the choice to absorb the costs themselves or charge the individual users.
Chas.K, UK

What's wrong with you Brits? The capitalist system dictates that if you don't like something, then take your business elsewhere! (The fact that you usually don't do this is why you pay the ridiculous prices you do in, say, supermarkets). In this case, you should take your business elsewhere and patronise financial institutions that still give you good service and low fees. There are some, you know. Then you can tell those expensive banks to take their fees and put them where the sun doesn't shine.
Martin Eady, Canada

I do not think that banks should charge users of their ATMs. This is a clear case of banks profiteering and taking advantage of people. Banks are already making huge profits from people withdrawing their own money. This is a disgusting and disgraceful practice and should be stopped.
Jeff, U.S.A

Just another rip off! The banks have conditioned us to stand in queues in the rain, snow and potential victims of muggers and now they want to charge us for the privilege?
Martin Shubert, USA
The banks originally introduced cash machines to save money. Now they are closing branches to save money. If they can't fund cash machine operation from the very high interest gained from investing customers' money then that's a very sorry indictment of the people running UK banking. More power to Nationwide!
Lionel Scales, UK

Here in Japan we have to pay a loyalty fee every time we use another bank's ATM, and are charged for withdrawing cash from ATMs belonging to our own bank as well - just not as much. I resent every penny. The banks already make enormous profits from us-- the double whammy just goes to show how they hold the ordinary customer in contempt.
Tony Kehoe, Japan

Studies here in Canada indicate a per-transaction cost to the Banks of $2.70 for a teller to deal with you personally, $1.74 to handle a cheque, and 17 cents to transact at an ATM. Given this, why should we pay for using the ATM? All the benefits accrue to the Bank. Any wonder their Corporate profits continue to climb into the stratosphere?
John Nicholls, Canada

Over here in Los Angeles the banks are getting their knickers in a twist because the local authorities (initially in Santa Monica) have passed laws to prevent the banks from making these outrageous charges. Not only does one have to pay one to two dollars to the bank that owns the ATM, but then one's own bank charges one to two dollars! Ridiculous. So the city fathers here have finally decided to stamp out this poor practise, just as the notion is becoming popular with the banks in the UK!
Mark Scott, English in USA

Various states in the US are thinking of banning ATM fees. However, when one district in California passed such a law some banks turned round and banned other banks customers from using their ATM's (Bank of America and Wells Fargo). Unsurprisingly this annoyed people even more, so this should be taken as a warning that banks aren't going to let go of their 'free' money from ATM's easily. Another point is that some group estimated that the average cost to the banks in the US is about 22 cents per transaction, yet they charge $1.50 for non bank customers, and I would assume that the situation in the UK is similar. Personally I think this is cheeky of the banks.
Michael Kay, US (UK)

This is yet another piece of cynical profiteering by bankers without scruples and without morals. In the last few years they have turned the screw on the ordinary punter without mercy. The costs are continuing to rise while the service is getting worse and worse. No doubt the worm that thought this one up will be rewarded with big bonuses and share issues. We have no choice but to use the banks. A ten-pound withdrawal could cost up to two pounds fifty. Robbery.
M. Anderson, Scotland

Abbey National charge if you want to settle bills over the counter (5 a go). They now also charge for using any machine that isn't their's in the LINK system. Surely the government MUST step in somewhere. It is ripping off the consumer
Paul Kerton, UK

Banks are providing a service of letting other bank's customers use their tellers. Why shouldn't they be allowed to charge a fee for this service? Banks are supposed to make money like any other business, and they can't charge non customers money for using their accounts so why not?
Roy, USA
The best way to curtail the greed of banks is to simply not use ATM machines. I use my card at Point of Sale locations only. If everyone else was to do the same, they'd soon get the picture.
Thomas Duncan, United States of America

Oh stop whingeing. If you're angry at your bank charging you at ATMs, change to one that doesn't. Don't just stay put and whine.
Ian Power, New Zealand

I think it is a big conspiracy. All the banks here use a fee some as much as $5 depending on where you are. But the average is $1.50 There was a city in California which banned the fees on machines within its city limits. I believe that every machine in the U.S. should be banned from the fees. And then the world will follow suit.
Chris Aliviado, US

On the lighter side, consider Tokyo, one of the most commercial, technological cities in the world. ATMs charge from 50 pence to 2 pounds per transaction, operate working hours of 8am to 7pm, and simply don't work on Bank Holidays. And yes, I totally oppose having to pay through the nose for an automated, trivial service.
David Perry, Japan

All the banks and building societies make excessive profits simply because of the charges they make: both on our money, or the promise of it, as well as by the ridiculous amounts of charges they arbitrarily impose on their customers. The costs of running ATM's is included within their infrastructure expenses and are well absorbed. As institutions have resorted to more and more creative accounting to suit their own purposes, they have drawn attention to the fact that usury is an unfair business, as it has always been. Since long before Shylock, they have demanded the right to take their pound of flesh. Perhaps, like Shylock, they will retreat from this one out of shame for their snivelling principles.
Richard Brown, UK

We are charged usually about $1.50 for using an ATM machine, and now they are talking about charging a fee to use a bank with a live teller! So it's not any better here, in that respect.
Jill, US

I used to live in France where a bank card holder can visit any cash machine from any bank whatsoever in the country with no question of any charge for this service. If it can operate without any problem like that in France why on earth must it be any different in the UK?
Richard Nilan, UK

With my Abbey National account I am damned if I do and damned if I don't. If I use anything other than their machines I get charged 1.50. If I want to use the branch they decide to charge me 3 for the privilege to get my own money.
Dave Roberts, UK

When Banks first introduced Cash Machine Networks they set up alliances and access to machines was free, to customers and I believe Banks. I seem to remember a MMC, or maybe OFT, investigation, triggered by the smaller Banks / Building Societies, that said such alliances were unfair and that the banks must set up an interbank trading system for machine withdrawals. Perhaps these Government Agencies who were so concerned in the past with Banks offering free interbank transactions should now revisit their ruling!
Barrie Shepherd, UK

Are banks in the 'people' business, or not? If we have the rapid closure of bank branches, charging for using counter services and charges for ATM withdrawals, there is almost no way to get our hands on the cash which we are kind enough to loan the banks without paying for the privilege. We cannot make cash withdrawals over the Internet or through telephone banking. Further, we would be paying for half a service. ATM withdrawals in the UK are for very limited amounts: sometimes as little as 100 pounds, making a minimum 1% commission for those customers. And if we have meetings to discuss whether and what to charge for ATM transactions, is this not illegal price-fixing?
Andi-Tsuyosh Williams ,Belgium

The banks encouraged us to use ATM's for their own convenience so that they could cut down on staff. If they introduce charges for drawing cash, perhaps they would like us all to revert to writing cheques at the counter when we want cash? It is reckoned that a cash withdrawal costs the bank only about 30p, but of course saves much more in staff costs. If the larger networks are concerned that they are effectively subsidising the smaller banks, surely, as all transactions are recorded, it would be easy for them simply to add up the difference and for the smaller banks to pay the larger ones for their own customers use - this saves the smaller banks the cost of installing and maintaining their own ATM's. As the Nationwide spokesman said, it all smacks of profiteering.
Michael Miller, Sheffield

As the 20th century draws to a close we stand one the dawn of a new age, with about a month left to go of this century, why do the banks want to turn the clock back to a time when we had to queue up on a Friday afternoon, simply to get out enough money to see use through the week? Have they been hit by the millennium bug already?
Norman Wright, Cambridgeshire

I think that this is a backlash against all the customers the high street banks are loosing to the newcomers in the banking sector, like Tesco and Smile etc. The thinking is that why should the established banks provide infrastructure to these newcomers when they are taking customers away from them. It is cynical and it is not in the interest of the consumer. Established banks should not be able to hijack an important piece of banking infrastructure for competitive or profit reasons.
Marc Juffkins, UK

Although I understand that banks incur costs in providing cash machines I cannot agree with a charge being levied for their use. The amounts of interest that banks offer, and the costs incurred in administering, current accounts in no way compares with the profit they make in using our money to lend and speculate. If banks were not making profits, then passing on this cost might seem reasonable. As it is, charging customers to gain access to their own money is unacceptable.
Jo, UK

Frankly, I can't believe that banks are really so greedy as to try and misrepresent the massive economies they have made, thanks to cash-machines, as some kind of extra cost which needs to be recouped from us. It's absolutely disgusting. I find the alleged cost of 30p per transaction totally unbelievable - as a high-level user of telecoms myself, I know this figure simply has to have been worked out by some bureaucratic accountant including everything from eco-pollution to latent heat of cabling in the cost-equation.
No way on earth would I sanction a network with such high transaction costs, and I know there's no way the banks would either. For 30p, I can connect long-distance for ten minutes during peak hours - off-peak, it's over half-an-hour. When was the last time you spend more than two minutes on the whole of your ATM withdrawal? Something stinks, doesn't it?
Neil Jackson, UK

Whatever next! Paying the richest commercialisation's in the world to withdraw your own money? Yet another example of the fat cats robing the poorest of us, do the rip off Britain crusade have no boundaries, the water companies, the railway's, the car manufactures, there cannot be much more room at the saucer of cream, isn't it about time the public hit back at these greedy merchant's, and formed some kind of association.
Bernard Sandells

I thought that the banks were making SAVINGS through the use of cash point machines ( it enables them to close branches). What happens if we all go back to cashing cheques over the counter.. and demanding more accessible branches in our towns and cities?
Denis Lomax

The banks seem to be encouraging people to go back to queuing up in their branches at lunch time to cash cheques. Surely this would cost them more than the 30 pence they say it costs to process an ATM transaction? Or perhaps they have something interesting to say about the cost-effectiveness of automation?
Jim Holmes

If the banks go ahead with charging for the use of cash machines the consumer can hit back by only drawing money at the counter on production of a cheque. That will costs the banks far more than the computerised ATM.
Consumer power in this country has never been properly harnessed and if only the general public could get their act together like the French farmers, a lot of profiteering and dubious practises by commercial organisations could be wiped out.
Peter Gornall

There is only one answer to the banks attempts to reintroduce charges - NO!!! Free banking should be just that free of any charges, hidden or otherwise if a customer remains in credit. Any attempt to levy a charge for card transactions removes choice from the public. We have accepted the new technology which has cost us the use of local branches (many have been closed)and most working people need easy access to our cash at odd times of day or night. We should not have to pay another tax for the privilege.
Barry Porteus, UK

I bank with the Woolwich, who, a few years ago closed a large proportion of their branches thereby preventing me withdrawing cash directly and forcing me to use other cash machines in the Link/Matrix network, and now as a result I am being charged a "Disloyalty" penalty. I should like to know who is being disloyal. Now the other Banks are to charge on top of this so I shall have to go back to keeping my money under my mattress.
Peter Morgan, UK

With regard to the fees that may be charged from cash machines. I find this unacceptable due to the fact that you cannot get cash from banks after 5.00. Cash machines are the only way to get monies after this time, as you are probably aware many people work the same hours as banking hours therefore cash machines are the only way to get monies from the holders account, applying a charge (as many banks already do) would not be in the interest of their customers, they make enough money from there customers to provide this service free of charge.
Peter Ballard, UK

I find this subject of bank charges an insidious one. Not long ago the banks were inviting everyone to use the cash machines because the cost of processing over the counter transactions was getting too high. Branches were closed to save on staff costs and the increased use of machines gave them a further excuse to close branches on the basis that everyone could now use machines.
It is now clear that in many rural areas branch closures are a social and economic disaster for those areas. Traders cannot bank locally, visitors are discouraged to stay because even cash machines are not always installed.
We have all been made to become dependent on banks for payment of salaries, and other transactions, I think the least the banks can do is provide a service in return. In view of the history of cash machines, it seems the banks want it all ways; firstly, make us dependent on them, secondly, close the branches and encourage us to use the machines, and then finally charge us extortionately for using the machines.
This is rip off Britain after all.
Roger Wilson

Why should I be charged for taking cash from a cashpoint when there are no branches of my bank within miles. I bank with the Bank of Scotland. If the outcome means an extra charge, I will have to reconsider with whom I bank. But why should I be forced to change. I'm very happy where I am thank you.
Fiona McTavish

With the introduction of ATM's the customer was sold the whole idea of the machines on convenience, speed and more importantly cheaper banking, through the reduction in staffing cost that the new technology would bring. However what we now find is that on top of the obscenely massive profits that the banking sector already make, we are now going to be charged for the privilege of accessing our own money at a rate that can only be called exorbitant.
Nick Plows

If the banks are going to impose a surcharge on their customers for using other ATMs than their own then they have GOT to ensure that their cash machines are always full of money. It's no good trying to avoid a surcharge by going out of the way to use your own bank's machine only to get there and be faced with "Sorry this machine is out of use". And we all know what that means - yes, it's run out of cash.
Jenny Spafford

I live in Scotland but frequently visit England, where there are not many Bank of Scotland ATMs. It seems people like me could be penalised just for crossing the border. Even taking cash with me is not the solution - there are places in England still reluctant to accept Scottish notes!
John, Edinburgh

What the major banks are not taking into account in this debate is the fact that they have been busy closing branches over the last few years, so that for many of us they have become less and less convenient to their customers. My bank claimed to be the 'Listening Bank', They shortly before closing our local branch sent me a questionnaire, one of the questions of which asked why I banked at their bank. The answer I gave, and it must have been the same as many others, 'because you have a local branch, staffed by friendly and helpful people.'
However, in the interests of profit, our branch was closed. How petty, then if they are considering the double whammy of inconveniencing us once again. It is as usual the small saver and loyal customers who are penalised by the demands of big business. If I use other banks outlets, it is for the sake of the convenience they have denied me by their own policies. If they are losing money dispensing cash, its nothing compared to the savings they made by closing my local branch, presumably!
C Russell, UK

Apart from Barclays obvious wish to shore up their fading fortunes by continuing their long tradition of customer non-service, the only motive for charging cash machine transactions is pure greed.
For many years banks have been having great difficulty in getting people into their branches - to sell new products and services. Even 20 years ago it was common to see queues huddled in the rain at cash machines, while the echoing banking halls behind them contained only bored tellers.
Closing down branches is facilitated by people who use machines and saves a great deal more. So instead of branch closures causing an outcry, they should be welcomed for as long as their cheaper alternative - cash machines - are provided free.
lan Murgatroyd

It's about time the government got to grips with the banks, possibly through the monopolies commission. The majority of people in this country can no longer get hold of their hard earned cash unless they have a bank account. And other parts of life are governed by whether you have a bank account or not.
Are we not taxed enough by the government, without the greedy banks not adding to the burden. Why should I be taxed when I get my payslip and then again, when I go to pick up my money. Its not as if they are not already making money out of peoples wages, by not paying any interest.
James Bayfield

In the last few years Banks clamoured for the "cash filled pay packet" to be a bank transfer payment. "Big Business and profit, now largely achieved" "Millions of new customers" on which then bankers ply their trade. Mortgages, insurance, loans etc. Cash points sprang out of the need to dispense cash to customers upon demand, without the attendant cost of the banks providing extra staff or premises.
In fact "dispensers" and "shared access" allowed more profits for the banks by the means of staff reductions and Bank branch closures. "Dispensers cost less to stock cash than catering for a personal counter service. The Banks have already recouped their costs and all show lovely profit, A charge to "get at ones own Cash is another example of RIP-OFF- Britain. Enter Telephone, TV and internet banking, the smart card. Get ready for more Rip-off.
Alan Pennock

Bravo Nationwide! I sincerely hope the bully boy tactics of the 'Big Banks' do not win through. I think it is disgusting that banks charge customers for getting hold of their own money. Banks already make millions out of customers, paying minimal amounts of interest on current and savings accounts but lending at well above base rate. 60 day accounts offer better interest than current accounts and only penalise 60 days worth of interest. That has to be better for the customer than being charged 1.00 for withdrawing 10.00.
I used to work in a bank and had a target each week of the amount of customers coming to my till that I had to refer to a salesman. Due to these hard sell techniques, I myself, and I am sure I am not alone, do not like going into branches. The alternative, use a cash machine. Perhaps, for a change, banks could consider their customers, instead of their shareholders. It isn't really as though people have any choice. No bank account makes life very, very difficult. Now having a bank account makes life more expensive!
Helen Priestley

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  Business
Banks consider cashpoint charges
23 Nov 99 |  UK
How much does cash cost?
Links to other Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.