I saw a story that mentioned all ATMs should now be displaying prominent fee alerts in accordance with federal law. As I sat here and read the story I could recollect that my bank had some sort of notice on it’s ATM about fees but wondered how ATMs in general were doing on this. So I decided to grab my camera and head out to do a little survey. I also learned an important lesson, no matter how much you explain what you are doing, convenience stores don’t like you bringing a big digital camera into them. Lesson learned in how to get tossed out quickly.
According to an article by the law firm of Hunton & Williams, each ATM requires the following disclosures:
- Notice on the ATM machine. A notice must be posted on or at the ATM machine in a prominent and conspicuous location. This notice must state that “a fee will be imposed for providing electronic fund transfer services.” However, if there are certain circumstances in which a fee will not be imposed, such as a balance inquiry, the notice can state that a fee “may be imposed” rather than “will be imposed.”
- Onscreen or on paper notice. A notice must be provided on the ATM screen or on paper prior to the consumer completing the ATM transaction. The notice must include the language in number one above, and it must state the actual fee that will be assessed if the transaction is completed. The onscreen notice must appear for a reasonable duration, and the consumer must have the ability to cancel the transaction and avoid the fee after reading this onscreen or paper notice (and before completing the transaction).
- Fee disclosure on receipt. An ATM operator must disclose the fee on the receipt generated upon completion of the ATM transaction if the fee is included in the transaction amount. The terminal receipt itself is not an alternative to the onscreen or paper notice.
If an ATM operator fails to provide the proper ATM notices, the ATM operator could be the subject of a class-action lawsuit. In such case, the ATM operator can be liable for damages of up to the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of the net worth of the institution. – Source
Overall the ATM machines that appeared to be the worst for compliance were the ones at gas stations or convenience stores. On those machines the fee notice disclosures were not apparent at all and in two situations (one which I could not photograph) I actually had to get down on the floor to read them. Hardly what I would call a prominent and conspicuous location.