STATEMENT OF CONCERN ABOUT RISING ATM FEES
Americans for Fairness in Lending, California Reinvestment Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Service Employees International Union, Woodstock Institute
We are deeply concerned by Bank of America’s plan to raise fees for non-customers at many of its ATMs to $3 per transaction the highest in the country.
In its emerging role as the largest banking institution in the United States, Bank of America’s planned ATM fee hike from $2 to $3 has already been reported as an opportunity for other banks to drive their fees even higher ( “Rising ATM fees on horizon, ” Charlotte Observer, September 2, 2007; “Higher Bank of America Fees To Raise Rivals’ Costs, ” American Banker, August 3, 2007) and we fear the ultimate consequence would be an unconscionable squeeze on low- and middle-income bank consumers. These consumers-many of whom are unable to leave work to use lobby services during traditional “banking hours” and rely heavily on ATM transactions for small-dollar amounts-will bear a disproportionate financial burden in affording these increases.
Given the recent and disturbing trend toward fee-based profits that is making banking services more and more unaffordable for the Americans who need them most, we call on Bank of America and other financial institutions to proceed cautiously before placing even greater reliance on such practices.
No one disagrees that consumers can-and should-pay the fees that are necessary to provide them with vital financial services. However, we call on Bank of America and other banks to explain why-even as fees for nearly all other financial services decline over time as the scale of their use increases and related costs decline-ATM fees continue to “defy gravity” and are now poised to rise by another 50 percent.
We believe the temptation to squeeze out new profits by gouging consumers with unreasonable and unjustified fee hikes is one that should be resisted by our nation’s financial institutions-and meet resistance from both consumers and Congress.
Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL)
California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC)
Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
Consumers Union (CU)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)