100,000 back petition calling for ban on cash machine charges

Campaigners against cash machine charges yesterday handed a huge petition to Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The 100,000-signature petition was taken to the DTI headquarters in Victoria Street, central London, by David Anderson, the chief executive of the Yorkshire Building Society. It calls on Mr Byers to announce a ban on new charges for withdrawals from cash machine.

The petition comes ahead of a meeting in Harrogate today of the Link cash machine alliance aimed at resolving the long-running row over charges.

Some banks already charge their own customers a "disloyalty" fee of up to £1.50 when they withdraw cash from a rival's machine and last month members of the Link network voted to allow additional surcharges to non-customers withdrawing cash from 1 January next year. The decision has met with widespread criticism from consumers' groups, Mr Byers himself and from Don Cruickshank, who in a Government-commissioned report that was released last week said banks should not charge customers more than 30p per transaction for withdrawing cash from machines. Mr Anderson said yesterday: "The level of support we have received for this petition has been overwhelming. It costs just 30p to process a cash machine withdrawal and the attempt by some of the big banks to introduce a new charge of £1 or even more for some withdrawals is simply putting excessive profits for their shareholders ahead of service to their customers yet again."

The 34 members of the Link network are meeting in an attempt to devise a fee system which will not involve double-charging. This would mean outlawing either the existing disloyalty charges or the planned new surcharges. Mr Anderson said: "We will be tabling a resolution at the Link board meeting asking for the new charges to be banned. If this is not supported we will put forward a further resolution calling for a maximum surcharge fee of 30p."

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