ATM Charges

by Melvin Durai

	Withdrawing money from the bank used to be so convenient. You could
	visit a money machine almost anywhere. Without paying a cent, you
	could get enough cash to buy a television or put a large down payment
	on some basketball shoes.

	But a couple of years ago some banks started charging a fee. If you didn't
	have an account with them, you had to pay at least a dollar to withdraw
	money at their ATM (Automated Theft Machine).

	Other banks followed suit and now the majority charge a fee. Some even
	charge as much as $3, more than most of us save in a year. That's a
	steep fee, especially when you're trying to withdraw $5.

	To their credit, banks have tried to make ATMs much safer for us. They've
	installed bright lights and security cameras. They don't want anyone else
	robbing us.

	Some lawmakers, bless their hearts, are trying to put a limit on the
	surcharges. They don't want bankers to get carried away and use ATMs
	to pay for their BMWs. They don't want the ATMs to display this message:
	"Please withdraw only half as much as you can afford, because we're
	taking the other half."
	Banks say they have to charge a fee because ATMs are expensive. They
	cost as much as $80,000 and that doesn't even include the money inside.
	It would be cheaper to put a human in a box. But there's probably a law
	against that. And humans, unlike machines, are prone to make mistakes
	and they're also prone to run to Mexico with the money.
	The surcharge also allows banks to install ATMs in many convenient
	places, such as parks, plazas and prisons. They especially want ATMs
	in places like casinos, where people are so desperate for money, they're
	willing to trade their spouses.
	But in their haste to make ATMs more convenient, banks have made
	them less convenient for people like me. I'd rather have one free ATM in
	my neighborhood than a dozen that want to swindle me. A couple of
	dollars may not seem like much to a banker, but to me it means a feast
	at Taco Bell.
	Besides, it's against my principles to pay a bank to give me MY money.
	I just won't do it, unless I'm stuck somewhere with no money, no Visa
	and no mother.
	What irks many people, including me, is that we got used to free ATMs
	over many years. Banks got us hooked to them and then decided to
	reel in our money.
	For some reason, in the 1970s and '80s, bankers didn't complain much
	about the cost of installing ATMs. Perhaps they were too busy explaining
	to shareholders how the machines would replace tellers and save money.
	At the unveiling of the first ATM, a banker probably said, "Here's a
	revolutionary machine that dispenses cash without wasting time on chitchat
	and without requiring minimum wage. It has no bad habits like smoking,
	swearing or asking for raises. It cannot be threatened with a gun and will
	never sue us for discrimination. One day, this machine will be able to greet
	people through the video display, process their transactions quickly and
	take them to the cleaners."

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