Chase’s Pilot Program Testing $5 ATM Fee Crashes and Dies

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In March, Chase ATMs in Texas and Illinois began charging jacked up ($4-$5) fees for each non-customer transaction. The fee hike has already proven to be a failure, however, and the charges are now back to $3 a pop (which is still sorta ridiculous, but by this point is basically the standard). One insider, commenting on Chase’s initial move, said that it made sense because “you really don’t care if you piss off someone else’s customer.” But if a bank angers consumers to the point that they refuse to pay fees and take their business elsewhere—well, you can be sure that bank executives care about that.

Earlier this week, as reported by the AP, CNN, and others, Chase decided to get rid of its experiment charging $4 (in Texas) and $5 (Illinois) for non-customers using their ATMs. If the fee tests had been successful, they presumably would have spread to other markets. Instead, we get to witness one of the rare modern moments in which a new fee shrinks away, with its tail between its legs.

Nobody likes fees, but so far banks and other businesses (cough, airlines, cough) have been able to cope with the negative feedback so long as it’s accompanied by positive revenues. But there is a limit, apparently, to how much businesses can get away with. Finally, we’re seeing that fees can be so outrageous that they prove to be bad for business’s bottom line.

JP Morgan Chase offered very little explanation why the fee came and went so quickly. All a spokesperson told the You’re So Money blog is this:

“The test is over and we returned non-customer ATM fees in Illinois and Texas to $3. That’s really all we have to say on the topic.”

I guess that means this test received an F. But something tells me there will be plenty of other tests in the future.