UK consumers still confused by fee-charging ATMs

UK consumers still confused by fee-charging ATMs

UK consumers are still confused about whether they will be charged a fee for making cash withdrawals at ATMs despite the introduction of stickers and on-screen messages on fee-charging machines, according to research commissioned by Nationwide Building Society.

There are around 18,500 fee-charging ATMs in the UK, representing nearly 40% of the network, which charge a convenience fee or surcharge which is typically between £1.25 and £1.50 for each withdrawal. Nationwide says the research shows that many people are still confused by the charging system, which costs consumers £60 million a year.

Stuart Bernau, Nationwide executive director, says: "Our research shows consumers are clearly confused about whether machines will charge them and where they can go to get free access to their money. It is concerning to see that warnings signs about fees are not catching peoples' attention."

The poll, which was conducted by Marketing Sciences Limited, found that between April and June almost one in every five people (18%) used an ATM that charged for cash withdrawals, but a quarter of the these said they didn't see any early warning before requesting their cash.

Nationwide - which has campaigned for the introduction of clearer labelling of fee-charging ATMs - says this is disappointing given that the industry agreed last year to put clearly visible early warning signs on all fee-charging cash machines by April 2004.

The poll found that over 80% of people use cash machines in the UK to withdraw money, but almost a third (32%) are unaware that they should look out for stickers or on-screen messages to find out if an ATM charges a fee for withdrawals. Over half (58%) do not know what proportion of cash machines charge. Only 11% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay a fee for using an ATM in a non-bank location.

The survey also found that 10% believe that all cash machines are still free to use, while four per cent of respondents believe all ATMs levy a charge.

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