Thursday, March 8, 2007

ATM Fees - again

Much ado about nothing

Prior entries on this topic argued that federal politicians have no business micro-managing bank fees; and that NDP howling on the subject, prompting sympathetic Tory government posturing, amounts to little more than nuisance populist politics. I may be in the minority but I’m certainly not alone in that opinion.

In two recent columns in the Financial Post, people much more expert than I weighed in. Yesterday Marcel Latouche maintained that more bank competition, not fee regulation are in order. And today Robert Crandall and Hal Singer debunked a Globe and Mail editorial with, of all things, "facts". They observed, for example, that "...Canada has far more ATMs than most countries". More regulation would soon change that fact.


Anonymous said...

Grade A financial institutions exist due to government charter/fiat. The government has a right and an obligation to oversee how they treat the public. If banks or political types or business types don't like that then let's open the doors to real competition.

Conrad said...

All this fuss about ATM fees is getting tiresome. No one has to pay a fee at an ATM if they really don't want to....all they have to do is use a machine owned by the bank they deal with. If I'm too lazy to walk across the street to use my bank's machine and opt to use a different bank's, why shouldn't I pay a fee? I'm not their customer but they have made a service possible for me.
The other alternative to paying an ATM fee is to simply start out with enough cash to get through the day. That method used to work quite well before the dasy of automated tellers.
I have no quarrel with banks charging a fee for the use of the machine by non-customers....after all, there is a cost involved in setting them up and maintaining them. Or perhaps another alternative would be for the banks to remove the machines from service. That would solve the problem of fees, wouldn't it.

JR said...

Amen to that. After many years of using ATMs once or twice a week I've never paid a fee. But if it came to some urgent situation where I just had to use another bank's machine I'd appreciate the convenience enough not to whine about a small fee.

john said...

Going after the banks makes political sense. Keep in mind that the NDP started this effort, but now the Conservatives will reap all the credit.

If the banks refuse to concede any ground, do we think the blame will fall on the politicians? The banks will remain the bad guys.

This exercise has much in common with the promised GST cuts: Little real value (or cost) and lots of popular support.

Personally, it takes some planning to avoid these charges. For those of us rural folks who do most of our banking on the internet, we are often at the mercy of the local convenience store and the "white" machines. Not only do you end up with a fee from the private machine, but my bank tacks on its own charge. I can get cash back from the local liquor store, but I can only drink so much.

With the banks closing rural branches, there is no bank ATM within 30 kilometers of my house. Planning for cash is essential.

JR said...

Sounds like some rural folks have banking difficulties that go well beyond ATM fees. And I forgot about debit card "cash back" as a way to get money. I don't have a debit card but I regularly see customers at the grocery store doing the "cash back" thing. Might save your liver, John.