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ATM charges still too high, consumer groups say

The Local · 3 Feb 2011, 12:21

Published: 03 Feb 2011 12:21 GMT+01:00

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“We are still far from an acceptable level for charges,” Frank-Christian Pauli, of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, told Thursday's edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily.

An online consumer survey by the site biallo.de of 262 German banks found that the average cost of using a non-affiliated ATM had fallen to €3.93, around €1.70 less than it was before the new regulations.

Sparkasse top the list of charges, with an average withdrawal price of €4.40, although these also vary wildly depending on which regional division of Sparkasse customers bank with.

The highest fees are at branches of Sparkasse Anhalt-Bitterfeld, which continue to charge as much as €10 for a withdrawal.

Charges from the co-operative banks have sunk by an average of €2.90, but again prices vary throughout Germany. The cheapest is the PSD Niederbayern-Oberpfalz Bank, although at €1.89 there is little difference with the €1.95 standardised price from the CashGroup (Postbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, Commerzbank).

“Two euros should be the maximum, when you consider how little this actually costs the banks,” Pauli said.

The cost to the banks is between 30 and 70 cents per transaction, he said.

Pauli was similarly unimpressed by banks' adherence to the new rule that they must display the charge for non-affiliated withdrawals.

“At most banks you only see the charge after you’ve entered your card, PIN and withdrawal amount,” rather than as soon as you enter the card, he said.

Horst Biallo of biallo.de told Süddeutsche Zeitung he expected prices to drop further, particularly in regions where one bank dominated.

“In places where there is high competition, the pressure has increased on banks as customers can now compare prices for different ATMs,” he said.

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The German Competition Commission, the Kartellamt, has stated it will be observing the situation closely in the coming months.

“We are keeping watch particularly in rural areas, where prices are still yet to significantly change,” said the head of the commission, Andreas Muth.

The Local/rm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:11 February 3, 2011 by frankiep
I agree, ATM fees are too high. You know what I do about it? I withdraw the money I need directly from a bank branch rather than from an ATM. Problem solved.

Pushing for a law that mandates how high or how low ATM fees are allowed to be is just dumb. These people can't see the forest for the trees. Let's just say that they get their wish, and that the government makes it a law that ATM fees can be no higher than 2€. How much do you want to bet that the number of ATMs you see available for use will drastically decrease? Then what will you do when you are in urgent need of some cash but have not an option in sight?

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
16:33 February 3, 2011 by Gaffers
I have an alternative solution. I withdraw cash only from my own banks' ATMs. That way I pay nothing and have not for the past 6 years I have lived here. If you are too lazy to make the effort to track down your own bank you deserve to pay the charges ! I expect protestations that your own bank may not be near by but I also have a solution for this. Plan ahead. Take out the money you will need for whatever you are doing beforehand when near your bank.

Bank Charges are a complete rip off. We all know this. The secret is to not get into a position where you are bound to pay them.
18:03 February 3, 2011 by Slimtots
I agree with the above posts. If the charges are too high then simply don't use them. I also withdraw only from my bank's ATMs.
19:11 February 3, 2011 by Landmine
So much for the government being in charge huh?
22:45 February 3, 2011 by danamcmahon
vere are you money, leave a message if not in.

The truth is don't let your banks and bankers do what they please. Larger printing on your communications and say no no no and no again to their use to our sums of capital. Such as it would seem, agreements only mean control like horses and cattle running around a corral. So my money means less when I ring the bell

and ask to take some out to buy flowers and bread. Or make a political donation, he he he he.
04:06 February 4, 2011 by maxbrando
In Germany, money really does talk as they say. Unfortunately, all it seems to say there is "Goodbye".
18:24 February 4, 2011 by jasminf
The real outrageous thieving is the three working days that it takes money to "clear" when you pay a cheque or bank transfer in! The banks have that money instantly, they just keep it from you for several days, collecting the interest. This is a throw-back to the days of the horse and cart, when it actually took that long to check whether the payer had the funds or not.
11:48 February 6, 2011 by ECSNatale
Maybe people should choose better banks that have more access to ATMs. We bank with Volksbank and as part of the network, we have never had a problem withdrawing money. While I do agree that many bank's ATM fees are too high, this is not a situation of banks scamming us without our knowledge. The consumer also has the responsibility to inform himself when he is out on the market place... which in this case means, if you want cash from an ATM machine... find out where your banks machines are and go there. If you are too lazy, then it's your own fault.
04:05 February 7, 2011 by yg7575
What`s going on with the ATMs in Germany is a daylight robbery. In Israel where I live, it doesn`t cost more than 2 scheckels (less than 0.2 Euro) to withdraw cash money from an ATM, whether it`s affiliated or non affiliated.
15:12 February 7, 2011 by DepotCat
In the UK I don't remember ever being charged for using an ATM machine that didn't belong to my bank. Of course those machines not affiliated to a bank that you find in shops etc. will charge...typically about £1.50 per withdrawal, and the charge is quite clearly displayed...That's why I avoid 'em.
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