The banking arm of UK supermarket Sainsbury's is to add an extra 235 cash machines to its national network this year as it raises concerns over the 'flouting' of ATM surcharge guidelines by independent operators.
Sainsbury’s Bank estimates that this year, 43 million cash withdrawals will be made from ATMs in the UK that apply surcharges of between £1.25 and £1.50, costing the public over £53.7 million. This is an increase of around 18% on 2003.
Since 1 April 2004, any surcharging ATM must display a sign that is clearly visible to customers before they insert a card stating that they may have to pay a fee for using the machine. However, Sainsbury’s Bank is concerned that some of these machines either don’t have these signs displayed or have them at knee height making it difficult to see them.
The supermarket is warning of a huge increase in the number of charging ATMs. In October 2001, there were 2,946 and by the end of 2003 this had risen to 12,500, accounting for 27% of total ATMs deployed. There are now some 17,000 surcharging machines and if this trend continues, says the retailer, they could soon account for over 40% of all ATMs and 20% of total traffic.
Tim Pile, chief executive, Sainsbury’s Bank says: "We are very concerned about this development as we believe customers should not have to pay for using an ATM. If companies are to apply charges to customers for using their cash machines, it is only fair that they make this as clear as possible."
The retailer says it will increase the number of its cash machines from 465 last year to 700 by the end of 2004. All ATMs will be situated onsite at Sainsbury’s supermarkets and petrol forecourts.