PRA appeals to government for ATM fee reform

The PRA has sent the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the Right Honourable the Lord Tyrie, chairman of the CMA, the case for government intervention in the reform of unfair changes to ATM usage fees. Many other organisations have also raised their concerns, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Association of Convenience Stores, and consumer group Which?

“ATM usage fees now pose a major concern for the UK economy, as access to cash – particularly amongst low income households or those in rural areas – becomes ever more restricted,” said Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) in his appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Several PRA members have been told by their ATM providers, sometimes without prior notice, that their ATM has become ‘pay to use’, with customers now being charged a fee of up to £1.99. Due to the decline in the use of cash, with only three out of ten transactions being cash-based, ATM operators are facing new economic realities, and have changed their policies to reflect this. Link, which manages the UK’s ATM network, have cut fees that are paid to cash machine operators, meaning that thousands of free cash machines are being lost as they are no longer economically viable. Thus, tens of thousands of people have been restricted to accessing their cash, with Which? finding 129 postcodes that have only one cashpoint – 84 of which charge a fee.

Big businesses, such as supermarkets and large group petrol stations are still more likely to have free-to-use ATMs, as they have more favourable contract terms, but this means smaller businesses will bear the brunt of the changes. There are around 3,750 ATMs at those small petrol filling stations, with 67 PER CENT currently being free-to-use, but this is set to fall dramatically.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Madderson continued, “There should not be one rule for big business and another for smaller operators. There is a cost to providing this service and so if ATMs must have a transaction fee, then it should be the same for all machines.

“We want equality and a uniform price for all withdrawals.”

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