A leader of the fight against ATM surcharges in California predicted Friday that the movement to ban such fees would succeed more quickly in individual cities and states than on the national level, where legislation has been proposed in Congress.

Jon Golinger, consumer program director for the California Public Interest Research Group, said he does not see Congress taking quick action on the anti-surcharge bills introduced recently by Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Bernard Sanders, Independent-Vt. Congress will be "the final battleground," Mr. Golinger said, but it's likely to "take quite some time to get there."

Mr. Golinger, who was instrumental in the drive for approval of a ban in San Francisco, said it took a year to get an ordinance passed by voters there. Last Monday, a judge temporarily restrained enforcement of the ordinance but required banks to put in escrow the ATM surcharges they collect until the dispute is resolved.

"This is a long battle, and I think most of the cities that are interested will take three to six months, maybe even a year to do it," Mr. Golinger said Friday. Consumers around the country should not expect "overnight" relief.

Also on Friday, David Bartone, a Washington, D.C., lawyer with expertise in ATM fee cases, predicted widening national skirmishes over the matter would "inevitably" be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. -- Helen Stock

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