Supreme Court Deals Blow To ATM Surcharge Bans

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Local bans on ATM surcharges suffered what appears to be a fatal blow last week when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of two lower court decisions repealing the bans. San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif., in 1999 passed ordinances to ban surcharges on ATMs owned by financial institutions.

A lawsuit seeking to block the bans by Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., California Federal Bank and the California Bankers Association won in local court, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the state court decision. San Francisco and Santa Monica appealed the lower court decisions. The banks argued that only the federal government could regulate ATM charges by federally chartered banks. The Supreme Court several years ago also declined to hear an appeal in a case in which Iowa's surcharge ban was struck down.

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