I’ve been writing a lot of Letters to the Editor lately, so I thought I’d take a second to post one.

Layton’s been taking a lot of flack for his proposal to scrap ATM fees. Personally I think it’s a great idea. I experienced it first hand when I lived in London, and it was liberating. I just had to find an ATM, and presto, I could get my money without any stupid service fees. It helped in busy tube stations, where most banks had only one ATM, but there weren’t any lines because you could use any ATM to withdraw. I don’t know how many times I’ve been out with a group of people in Canada and we have to walk all across the city looking for bank machine from everyone’s home bank. This is especially annoying when you don’t own a car (or your anxious to get in the long line for Bomber). Waterloo is a good example of this. On campus, there are only CIBC machines.

In response to Tom Brodbeck’s article in the Winnipeg Sun: Layton’s anti-bank campaign ridiculous

Just thought I’d take a second to correct some of the inaccuracies in Tom Brodbeck’s latest column. Truthfully, I’m not sure why I bother because he never seems to learn. Why check your facts when you can baselessly attack Jack Layton.

First, banks do charge to withdraw money. Although Mr. Brodbeck claims they don’t and “they never have”, it’s pretty clear that TD Canada Trust gives me 10 free transactions per month, and after that they charge 65 cents per transaction – and that’s any transaction: depositing or withdrawing in person or at an ATM. You can read it for yourself on their website. What’s that Mr. Brodbeck? I should switch banks? Great idea…let’s see BMO, there’s a 60 cents per transaction fee …Royal Bank, 50 cents per transaction… Should I go on?

But Mr. Brodbeck doesn’t think this is gouging. If I withdraw $20 from my own account and I get charged 65 cents. That’s a 3% service fee. If I withdraw $20 from a different bank’s ATM, I’m looking at least $3.00 in service fees ($1.50 from TD and usually another $1.50 from the ATM owner). So that’s a 15% service fee. Sounds completely reasonable. No gouging here.

Maybe you think Mr. Layton’s idea is stupid because Canadians have gotten used to paying ATM fees. But when I lived in London, England, banks there didn’t charge any service fees to withdraw money from anyone’s ATM. And I don’t think any British banks are going bankrupt. Personally, I wish banks would adopt this policy on their own, without government intervention. But even with $19 billion in profits last year, they don’t seem willing to even consider it.

Christopher Porter
Vancouver, BC

A columnist at the Toronto Sun claimed that “Canadians pay some of the highest bank service fees in the world”. I couldn’t find evidence for or against the claim. The closest I found was this an article from the Canadian Bankers Association which tries its best justify high banking fees in Canada. Fishy.