Canadians banking on politicians, is limiting ATM fee cap a solution or populist measure?

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Last week NDP introduced a motion to cap ATM fees to 50 cents per transaction in the House of Commons. When Tom Mulcair asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper whether the 2014 budget will tackle the issue,the reply he got was simple, but not straight forward. Harper said that his government has raised concerns about “certain banking fees and practices on consumers and small business”, and left it to that. Liberal MP Judy Sgro pointed spending money for convenience  at time is not wrong but  added that she herself “was hit with $6.50” once and “certainly learned her lesson.” Sgro agreed price-gouging clearly occurs with white-label ATMs.

When it came to Bank ATMs vs White-label ATMs, NDP made it clear the motion applies only to federally regulated ATM machines and not private “white-label” ones found at grocery shops and gas stations.

NDP has been raising this issue since 2007, but still they are not clear what they want to do  because it is the  ‘white -label’  ATMs that charge more and not the chartered Banks.

So now the question is what does New Democracts really want and what  Conservaties  are willing to do and how much  ground Liberals are going to cede to politcal opponents on this topic which clearly seems to be populist in nature but can leave Banks sore ?

If the motion  to cap ATM fees is adopted and a legistalion is brought to its effect, consumers will make short term gains because Banks will end up making money one way or  the other. Increasing the  number of  federally regulated ATM machines  can be a way out, this will lower the number of transactions Canadians make at private ATMs and get  heavily charged.

The facts and  figures of The Canadian Bankers Association show that 29 per cent of Canadians already pay no service fees on bank accounts, while another 34 per cent pay between $1 and $15 per month. More than 75% transactions take place at the banks and no fees are charged for that. This shows  the regardless what politicians say or do, especially the NDP, Canadians have  found a way to go around the ATM fees.

White-label ATM are for sure sore points for Canadians, but given the fact so many of such ATMs are surviving out there means that many Canadians are still being exploited in the hour of an emergency or need.

Till the time our politicians fight it out in the House of Commons, Canadians need to be smart and pay attention to the details in their banking agreements, statements and receipts and make sure that their  hard earned dollars are not disappearing in unwarranted fees and charges.