Making it big in the news this week is the RBA’s announcement to reform ATM fees for consumers. Sounds exciting right? Not really.
Here is what you need to know. Effective from March 3 2009, any consumer using a foreign ATM will be notified of the fee charged on the screen before they complete their transaction. If they deem the fee too high they can cancel the transaction, and will not be charged.
According to RBA governor Glenn Stevens, the measure is designed to “give cardholders more choice and increase transparency.”
Upon first hearing the words “ATM reform”, I was intrigued. As an irate customer who is constantly slugged with other institution ATM fees, simply because I use the most convenient ATM around at the time and loathe having to walk 5 blocks in search of my banks ATM, I immediately thought, “Finally! A win for customers. No more ATM fees.” Think again.
In the grand scheme of things, will it really make that much of a difference? Probably not. While I agree that it is a step in the right direction and a push by the RBA and the industry to better inform customers, it’s just not enough to get excited about. Customers will still be slugged with the high and unnecessary ‘foreign’ fees, but now they will know about it before they get their bank statement. Is it really going to deter them from using the ATM? Probably not. Will they still be out of pocket? Yes.
So, hypothetically, let’s break it down. With this new change, you can take two paths.
The first is that you are shown the fee on the screen and you decide to continue with the transaction. End result? You are slugged with a fee. Are you really going to stand there and applaud the industry for letting you know in advance how much money will be taken from you? No.
The second is that you decide the fee is too high and go to another ATM, or search in vain for your banks ATM. The end result? You waste 10 minutes of your life searching, and then… get a fee. The outcome is still the same, no matter which way you spin it. So does it really matter how you got there?
But that’s just me. Perhaps I am too cynical. Do you think it will make a difference?