Everything Should Be Free
From the quite often amusing (but sometimes crude, and definitely not daily) Daily Grind:
The Greens have greeted a left-wing think-tank’s report on ATM fees with a plan to ban the charges.
The idea is based on the Greens’ long-held belief that the banks are exploiting Australians by offering to exchange products and services for money.
“The amount of money Australian consumers pay in ATM fees is shocking and needs to stop,” Greens MP Adam Bandt was quoted as saying. Mr Bandt related dozens of stories of customers forced by unscrupulous banks to withdraw money from their competitors’ ATMs—sometimes for no better reason than that the customer was using a competitor’s ATM.
In one particularly shocking case, a woman wanted to withdraw money from her Westpac account, but the only ATM nearby was owned by NAB. Rather than walking 350 metres to a nearby RediATM, the woman was made to voluntarily pay $2 in exchange for the convenience of immediate access to her money. As the woman later tearfully recounted, “this isn’t what I signed up for when I explicitly signed up for this.”
And yet it’s a nightmare scenario repeated every fortnight or so for millions of Australians.
“Competition has failed to bring down the cost of ATM fees,” lied thinktanker James Fear, pointing out that although fee-free banking with unlimited ATM withdrawals is available to anyone who wants it, that doesn’t matter for some reason.
Mr Bandt has also received evidence that businesses in other industries may be charging for products that should be free, among them food, whitegoods, holidays, motor vehicles, homewares, manchester, computer equipment, garden implements, toys, hair care products and everything else.
Based on this story from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Greens MP Adam Bandt is considering calling for the elimination of ATM fees on balance inquiries in his banking reform bill, following the release of a report that concluded Australians spent $750 million last year on third-party fees …
“The amount of money Australian consumers pay in ATM fees is shocking and needs to stop,” said Mr Bandt, Greens spokesman for banking. “Fees on bank balance inquiries from ATMs are almost 100 per cent pure profit and can’t be justified.” …
Australian Bankers’ Association chief Steven Munchenberg dismissed the need for further reforms to ATMs pricing.
“If you are the customer of a bank, and you use an ATM owned or networked by that bank, then the user fee is zero,” said Mr Munchenberg. “Banks typically do not charge their customers for using their own ATM and the majority of ATM transactions is free.”
The RBA’s 2009 reforms forced ATMs to charge consumers directly, rather than through financial institutions, in a bid to lower costs and increase transparency. ATMs were also required to display the fee to be charged before the customer confirmed the withdrawal.
People being given choices, and asked to pay for stuff they want… Disgraceful!