Bank delays charge on cash-card users

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THE NATIONWIDE Building Society is postponing its threatened legal action against Barclays after the bank agreed to delay imposing charges on cash machine users. The building society had threatened to sue the bank if it did not "reconsider" its decision to charge the society's customers pounds 1 for using Barclays' machines.

Nationwide issued its threat last week and an agreement was reached yesterday after talks between Brian Davis, chief executive at Nationwide, and John Varley, chief executive of Barclays retail financial services. Both parties agreed to hold back pending further talks.

In a joint statement, Nationwide and Barclays said they believed that a speedy resolution of the dispute was in the consumer's interests. They called on Link, the cash machine network, to consult its members urgently. Nationwide has argued that Barclays' plan breaks a key rule of the Link system, requiring all the group's members "to service other members' customers' cards without discrimination".

Barclays, which joined Link in July this year, had planned to introduce a pounds 1 charge on October 11 to be levied against all customers of other banks - except Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland, with whom it has a long-standing agreement on cash machine charges.

Link was set up as a national alliance in 1986 by Giro Bank, the Co-op and leading building societies to allow customers to use a wider range of machines. The network now includes all of the high street banks and building societies, and member banks already receive 30p whenever their machine is used by customers of another Link member.

Last week, Barclays defended its position by saying it wanted an open charging policy, and promising to introduce on-screen warnings at all machines, telling customers that they will be charged.