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A charge too far?

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10/05/2006

The issue of free cash machines is a hot topic across the country at the moment, as Mike Collins discovers

Most people (93%) think that all cash machines should be free and 88% would only pay as a last resort to withdraw their own money, according to the results of an online poll of 7,500 people conducted by national charity Citizens Advice.

Most though that 30p was the maximum they should be asked to pay, while very few (4.3%) thought it reasonable to be charged more than 50p to withdraw money from a machine.

Almost half (46.3%) of those who had used a charging cash machine said they were not warned of the charge in advance. Three-quarters (73.5%) said additional signage about the charge would have helped them make a decision about whether or not they would use a particular machine.

Although two-thirds of respondents said they never (32.5%) or rarely (31.9%) used a charging cash machine, one in five (20%) used one at least once a week.

 ‘Excessive and unfair’

Citizens Advice director of policy, Teresa Perchard, said: “Of the 56,000 cash machines now operating in the UK, 23,000 charge a flat-rate fee of around £1.75 per transaction, regardless of whether the sum involved in £10 or £100, for example.

“Almost 6,000 bank closures since 1990 have left many of those who can least afford it with little option but to use high-charging convenience cash machines, or else spend money on fares to reach places where they can access their money for free.”

She continues: “Consumers clearly think charges for using cash machines are excessive, unfair and on the increase. They hit people on low incomes and those living in deprived areas particularly hard, and this has been made worse by all the recent bank and post office closures.

“The results of our survey show clearly that most people think cash machines should be free, and believe that only a nominal amount for using them can ever be justified.”

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