Bank of America Bashed for Raising ATM Fees

     Believe it or not, there are still some people who think businesses can create social benefits without making any profits.


     Such was the case when the Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) announced it would raise ATM fees and charge non-customers $3.


     “This is an irresponsible company doing everything they can to maximize profits and the Federal Reserve and the federal government and our presidential candidates should just say we don’t need companies paying their CEOs so much money, charging hard-working Americans for the convenience of using their banks,” said Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, on CNBC’s September 13 “On the Money.”


     Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess told the September 14 USA Today the higher fees would help offset the investment Bank of America has made “to upgrade and expand its cash machines.”


     The hike affects about 10,700 Bank of America automated teller machines nationally, according to CNBC. But rather than acknowledging people could use another one of the at least 370,000 ATMs in the United States, Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group invoked the possibility of a fee-cap law.


     “There really are no bank-fee-cap laws to speak of,” Mierzwinski said to USA Today. “The sky is the limit for bank fees.”


     Bank of America recently made news when it purchased $2 billion in Countrywide stock, a home-mortgage provider that had been reported on the verge of bankruptcy. One analyst said the hike in fees had nothing to do with Bank of America’s decision to invest in Countrywide.


     “[I]t has nothing to do with the subprime disaster or anything that is going on in the mortgage market,” said Philip van Doorn on CNBC’s September 13 “On the Money.” “Bank of America is seeking to maximize its non-interest revenue like any bank at a time of historically narrow interest rate spreads.”


     Things aren’t as terrible as they seem for non-Bank of America customers. Bank of America isn’t raising their ATM fees everywhere. The Associated Press reported the fee will remain $2 at 6,300 off-site locations such as malls, airports and universities, where the company said non-customer traffic is higher. And Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, is being also being spared from the hike, the Chicago Tribune reported.


     Despite the numerous alternatives available for customers to get cash out of their accounts from places other than Bank of America’s ATMs, that didn’t stop the San Francisco Chronicle from trotting out an angry non-customer in its September 14 issue.


     “‘It's ridiculous,’ said 18-year-old University of San Francisco student Anya Rodrigo, a U.S. Bank customer, as she got cash from a BofA machine at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco on Thursday. ‘I'm a college student. I can't afford that $3 to take out $20,’” Sam Zuckerman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote.