Banc One Corp.'s strategy of putting automated teller machines in Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores did not go over very well with Iowa officials. Iowa's superintendent of banking, Michael K. Guttau, is suing Sears over seven teller machines, claiming a number of violations of state law, including illegal fees. Although Columbus, Ohio-based Banc One is not named in the suit, which was filed Dec. 26 in Iowa District Court in Des Moines, its machines are at the heart of the controversy. The suit is the latest salvo in the nationwide debate over ATM surcharges, which has pitted consumer groups against bankers. Bankers say the fees cover the cost of providing convenient machines.
Last year Banc One installed more than 800 teller machines in Sears stores across the country. Each machine charges Banc One customers $1 and other banks' customers $1.50 for each transaction.