Bank Of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Visa, MasterCard Sued Over ATM Fees

Have you ever glared angrily at the ATM, knowing that you’re going to be saddled with fees and wishing you could sue everyone involved? Well, it looks like more than one person has followed through on this idea.

The latest of three lawsuits filed this week names Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Visa, and Mastercard as defendants, alleging that these institutions colluded to fix the levels of ATM fees.

The suit, filed by a New Jersey resident on behalf of consumers who “have been forced to pay artificially inflated, supra-competitive ATM access fees,” alleges “a horizontal agreement among every bank that is a member of the Visa and/or MasterCard networks that charges ATM access fees on foreign ATM transactions.”

The two earlier lawsuits accuse Visa and MasterCard of antitrust violations because they restrict independent ATM operators from charging lower prices for customers using alternative networks like STAR, Shazam Inc. or TransFund.

A rep for MasterCard said the company will defend itself and that the rules were put in place to protect consumers from ATM operators seeking to impose “discriminatory surcharges.”

All three of the suits state that because so many people in the U.S. use debit cards that are branded by either Visa or MasterCard, that ATM operators are thus compelled to have access to those networks.

From Bloomberg:

Visa, MasterCard and their member banks require the service fee for any transaction at an ATM to be “no less than the amount charged at that ATM or terminal for a Visa or MasterCard transaction,” even for transactions that don’t use the companies’ networks, the lawsuits allege.

The lawsuit against the banks involve so called “foreign ATM transactions” in which a customer of one bank withdraws money from an ATM owned or operated by another bank. It seeks class action status on behalf of those who paid an access fee for a foreign ATM transaction since Oct. 1, 2007.

The suit states that “By collusively agreeing to set a price floor for all ATM access fees at every ATM terminal throughout the country, the bank defendants and the bank co-conspirators shelter themselves from natural and beneficial price competition that otherwise would exist in the market.”

BofA, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Sued Over ATM Fees [Bloomberg]