ATM users are more likely to notice screen-based warnings of withdrawal charges rather than stickers on the outside of units, according to a survey released by UK cash machine network operator Link.
The survey, which was conducted by HIM, found that although some customers did recognise a fee-charging machine from the compulsory label on the outside of the unit, four times as many people recognised the ATM charged because of the warning displayed on the ATM screen prior to use.
One-in-six to one-in-seven users could not, however, recall any warning even after confirming acceptance of the charge.
Edwin Latter, Link ATM scheme director, says: "People are much more likely to read the up-front warnings on the screen than to notice stickers on the outside of the machine. This suggests that, as the next step in its work on transparency of charges, Link should look at clearer and larger standardised warnings on the screen, rather than concentrating on more external stickers."
The survey also found that most cardholders know that machines in pubs and nightclubs are the most likely to charge, while nearly all know that those at bank branches are free. The public also knew that cash machines in pubs and nightclubs were the most likely to have a surcharge.
However, Link says other work by HIM shows how important cash machines are to the survival of local convenience stores but statistics suggest that some convenience stores may be missing a trick by having charging rather than free units. Link statistics show that the average free cash machine does 15-20 times more cash-withdrawal transactions than the average charging ATM. Meanwhile, cash machine users visit convenience stores 18% more often than other customers and spend on average 11% more.
Link says the scales could be tipping further in favour of a landlord who chooses a free machine: while the average number of transactions at free cash machines has risen over the past years, the average number of transactions at surcharging cash machines has fallen.
The survey is part of an agreement made by Link members last year to review the new rules relating to rules on signage for fee-charging cash machines. The study will allow an evidence-based analysis of how the rules can be further improved, says Link.
The research is released to coincide with the convening of a Government-organised ATM summit to address concerns about the proliferation of fee-paying cash machines raised by members of the Treasury Select Committee.