In Defense Of Atm Fees

Your story on automated-teller-machine fees would have represented Washington State's surcharge debate better if it had explained why efforts by John Bley--the chief banking regulator for the state--to ban ATM surcharges on antitrust grounds failed ("Mad as hell at the cash machine," American News, Sept. 15). Last year, Eugene Ludwig, Comptroller of the Currency and Administrator of National Banks, refuted Bley's assumption that the use of surcharges is anticompetitive.

Ludwig's conclusion: "Given the variety of factors that may affect a consumer's choice of financial institution, charging a fee to noncustomers for ATM use, by itself, is likely to have a minimal effect on competition."

We agree. Customers have choices about where they bank and how they get cash, and many customers choose to avoid ATM fees. We believe consumers will ultimately decide the value that ATMs offer through their own purchasing decisions.

Josef E. Gray

Executive Vice-President

Bank of America

Seattle