transactions has sprung up in western Pennsylvania. Nineteen banks have agreed not to charge one another's customers. The group calls itself the Freedom ATM Alliance, and its rules will take effect in January at 177 ATMs in six counties. Members said they wanted to counter the large ATM presences of major banks in the region such as PNC Bank Corp. and Mellon Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh and National City Corp. of Cleveland. Surcharges are "a constant irritant to depositors," said Jeffrey Marrow, executive vice president of alliance member Dollar Bank, Pittsburgh. Similar alliances have taken shape elsewhere, including Massachusetts, New York, and several states in the Southeast. Banks that join them do not oppose the principle of surcharging customers of non-machine-owning banks, but they want to give their customers a price break. In one case, a group of California banks formed an alliance in which members agreed not to surcharge anybody. Pressure from community banks has prompted many of the regional electronic funds transfer networks-including NYCE, MAC, and Honor-to permit "selective surcharging." In turn, these rules have given more institutions leeway to set up no-surcharge alliances within the larger network frameworks. Some groups are sponsored by the networks; the new one in Pennsylvania sprang up independently. Mr. Marrow of Dollar Bank, a thrift with $3 billion of assets and 58 ATMs, said, "There is a tremendous marketing advantage in presenting depositors with a surcharge-free option. Depositors don't like surcharges." Each member of the Pennsylvania group will pay its own marketing costs, Mr. Marrow said. Don Shamey, president of Citizens National Bank in Evans City, Pa., said the Freedom ATM Alliance will give customers more convenience. "The network will provide maximum coverage at minimum cost for depositors," he said.
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