Banks set for new dispute over cash machines

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The high street banks are heading for a new row over cash machine charges tomorrow at a meeting of the 34 members of the Link cash machine network.

It is the first Link board meeting since the banks were ordered by Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to act to avoid double charging for withdrawals, which could result in customers paying up to £2.50 to take out as little as £10 in cash.

The meeting also follows the recommendation from Don Cruickshank, the head of the Government's banking review, that Link should demutualise and turn itself into a profit-making concern free from the dominance of the big four banks.

Since meeting Mr Byers earlier this month, the banks agreed to take measures to make double charging impossible. However, they are still split about whether this should be achieved by dropping the surcharge made by the bank that owns the machine, as Barclays, Abbey National and Lloyds TSB want, or the "disloyalty" charge made in some cases by the account-holding bank, as other banks are demanding.

Several banks are also dragging their feet over demands from Mr Byers that they move sooner than next year to ensure that customers are pre-notified on screen of any charges before they conduct their transaction.

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