Nationwide has hit out at the 'profiteering' charges levied on consumers by operators of convenience cash machines in the UK.
The UK building society - which successfully fought a campaign to retain fee-free bank cash machines in 2000 - has expressed alarm at the spread of convenience ATMs. Numbers have multiplied from 872 in early 2000 to approximately 11,000 machines today, representing one in four of the national ATM network. These machines make a convenience fee or surcharge which is typically between £1.25 and £1.50 for each withdrawal.
Nationwide says convenience ATMs are now appearing in high street shops and other regularly frequented outlets, rather than remote locations with low footfall and no easy alternatives for cash access.
There were 2.3 billion cash withdrawals at UK ATMs in 2002 with two per cent of withdrawals taking place at convenience machines, according to figures from payments body Apacs. At a fee of up to £1.50 per transaction this equates to consumer charges of £5.75 million per month or £69 million per annum.
Nationwide, which operates cash machines in garages and other 'convenient' locations and does not charge fees, describes the surcharging as a means "to profiteer at the expense of the consumer".
Nationwide executive director, Stuart Bernau, says: "Nationwide has fought hard to provide fairness on the high street for consumers using ATMs, yet this is increasingly threatened by the spread of so-called convenience machines. These charges affect more and more people each year and a stand needs to be taken against charging the public to withdraw their own money."