Wednesday, April 6, 2011

News Media Piles on Banks for Charging ATM Fees for Non-Customers

I wonder how many of us remember life before the ATMs (automated teller machines).  The only time you had access to your money was when your bank or other type of financial institution was open.  And if you wanted to cash a check at a bank where you didn’t have an account, you usually weren’t allowed to do so.  The premise was logical. Why should the bank offer a cash checking service for people who don’t have accounts there?

Because technological advances have brought us the amazing ATMs, we consumers have access to our money on a 24-hour basis no matter where we are.  Yet, according to our modern day media, no one should have to pay for this tremendous convenience even if they don’t have an account with the financial institution that is bearing the cost of providing this great service.

Last week, many news media outlets, like ABC World News Tonight, did stories on major banks testing $4 and $5 ATM usage fees for non-customers in Illinois and Texas.  As the news media too often does, it provided stories that were opposed to the fees.  In fact, it seemed that all the interviews were with whiners and complainers who were upset that they would be charged for the convenience of using an ATM by a financial institution where they did not usually conduct their business.  If you wanted to get the whole story, you would have to read one of the good business publications, like The Wall Street Journal.  How many people do that?

It’s not surprising to see our mainstream media files such biased reports on the ATM issue because most reporters really don’t understand business or economics.  Did you hear any of the reporters from the major networks tell you that it costs a financial institution about $12,000 to $15,000 a year to maintain each ATM?  Given this cost, the media thinks it is unreasonable to charge fees to non-customers for the great convenience these provide?  Of course, most of these institutions do make money on the fees they charge.  Why shouldn’t they?  They are incurring the cost for the purchase and maintenance, not the non-customer who is complaining that they should be afforded this service free of charge.

There are believed to be roughly 464,000 ATMs worldwide.  These machines provide a tremendous convenience for customers of these financial institutions.  You not only can have access to your money, you can also take advantage of numerous other banking services by using these devises.  In addition, most major financial institutions have ATMs all over the place, so no customer should really have to go very far to find a device from their own financial institution.  My bank actually put an ATM at the corner drug store.  Talk about convenience!

 Unfortunately, we have an ignorant and biased media that believes the whiners and complainers in our society should win the day and never have to pay for any service if they don’t believe it’s fair.  My only questions to the financial institutions that are now charging non-customers for using their ATMs is what took you so long?

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