To cash in on revenue generated from automated teller surcharges, some regional electronic banking networks have decided to charge the surchargers.
A memorandum sent to financial institutions in the MAC network said the institutions will be charged $100 a month and 5 cents per surcharged transaction, beginning Oct. 1.
"We felt it was fair," said Melinda Mercurio, a spokeswoman for Electronic Payment Services Inc., owner of MAC. "One of the reasons they're able to generate the new fees is that they can leverage the strength of the MAC brand."
Surcharging has been permitted nationwide since Visa and MasterCard dropped their bans in April.
MAC's Sept. 11 memo has not elicited many complaints, said Ms. Mercurio. Even so, it was leaked to the press in what might have been a protest against the Wilmington, Del.-based organization.
In MAC territory, leading retail banking companies such as PNC Bank Corp., Mellon Bank Corp., and Banc One Corp. have imposed surcharges when their ATMs are used by customers of other banks.
Ms. Mercurio said 60 network members are collecting surcharges, and 51 have plans to do the same.
MAC is not alone.
Tyme Corp. of Milwaukee charges a onetime fee of $375 for downloading the screen software necessary for surcharging. There is a 3.5-cent charge above the network's seven-cent switch fee for surcharged transactions.
James Martin, president of Tyme, said surcharging requires additional information to be passed back and forth across the network.
A screen message must be activated to inform customers that they are being surcharged and let them quit the transaction if they wish. He said the fees cover the development costs and maintenance.
Oddly, only one of the 1,600 ATMs in the Tyme network currently surcharges. Mr. Martin expects that to change.
In comparison, Ms. Mercurio said, surcharges are added at 23%, or 5,200, of the MAC ATMs. Those ATMs are owned by only 3% of MAC's 2,000 members.
Cash Station Inc. in Chicago charges 1 cent for surcharged transactions if it drives the machine. There are no monthly, annual, or setup costs.
Pulse EFT Association in Houston said it has never imposed such fees on its members, even though the network has permitted surcharging since 1990.
San Diego-based Star System Inc., the largest in the country, also exacts no fees. Others that do not charge are Honor in Maitland, Fla., and Most in Reston, Va., which are in the process of merging, and NYCE Corp.
Scott Strugg, a marketing executive at NYCE in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., said fewer than a dozen members have filed applications to surcharge, and not all of those have implemented the fees.
Magic Line of Dearborn, Mich., finally decided to lift its ban on surcharging as of October. So far, it has not made any announcements about extra charges.