Half of UK bank customers are confused about whether they can use the Big Four banks’ cashpoints for free, according to new research by consumer group Which?, reigniting the debate over clearer labelling at fee-charging ATMs.
The survey asked almost 1000 consumers whether they’d be charged to use cashpoints at each of 15 major banks (but not their own bank).
For all but two – Barclays (47%) and Lloyds TSB (49%) - at least half of the respondents did not know whether they’d be charged or not.
Emma Bandey, senior public affairs officer, Which?, comments: "Which? has long called for machines to be labelled with red (for charging) or green (for free) signs so you can see upfront whether you’ll be charged. Link, which runs the UK’s cashpoint network, considers that warnings which appear on the screen are clear enough but this research flies in the face of that."
Labelling at machines has recently been introdocued by Link network members following complaints by the public and government over the rise in independently-operated fee-charging ATMs.
Link argues that ATM operators have invested "significant sums" in advertising free withdrawals in a way that they consider best matches their particular brand design and colours.
In a statement, the ATM network operator says: "The majority of Link members do not consider that further regulation of signs at free machines is necessary, proportionate or would justify costs that would ultimately be borne by consumers."
Which? claims that its research belies assurances from Link that the new labelling system has achieved its aim of making cashpoint charges more transparent.
Link says the Which? survey offers no concrete evidence that consumers actually using fee-paying machines are unable to identify that they charge. The ATM network says it recently commissioned independent research based on cardholders using charging ATMs.
"Link and its members will consider carefully the results of this research in deciding how transparency can be further improved," states Link.