Annoying ATM fees could be replaced by annoying ATM ads

Dec 20, 2011

atm2 Annoying ATM fees could be replaced by annoying ATM ads

ATM fees are one of the most obnoxious day-to-day occurrences around, right up there with crying babies in nice restaurants and sitting next to obvious chain smokers on the subway. You realize you need some cash pronto, but you aren’t anywhere near your bank, so you walk into a bodega and get out your $40 while forking over another $5 in fees to both your bank and whoever owns the machine.

It sucks, and those few dollars here and there really add up over time. So one company, Free ATMs NYC, is testing out a solution. Instead of paying them to use it, they’ll play you a video ad while you wait for your transaction to process.

It’s an interesting direction to go in, and presents an alternate solution to what seems like a no-win problem. But it’s not perfect. For starters, the ads don’t cover the fees levied by your bank, which means you’d watch the commercial but still have to shell out a few bucks.

The other issue comes with the level of aggravation. It depends on the actual ads themselves; if they are too long or too loud, they could be extremely annoying. For the most part, a few extra seconds of a commercial is a lot better than being continuously raked over the coals by fees, but this seems to be one of those things that we’ll need to watch play out before seeing if it actually works.

There are some situations where paying more is preferable to being on the receiving end of a bunch of advertising. I recently bought an ad-supported Kindle, for example, but the special offers started to irritate me to the point that I laid out the price difference to have them removed. However, an e-reader is something that is in your face several times a day, so the ads are practically constant. Most people don’t visit ATMs on a daily basis, and are only in front of them for a couple of minutes, so in this case seeing the scant amount of promotion is likely the preferable option.

The ATM company could definitely benefit if they can figure out a way to work with banks as well. It’s a long shot, obviously, to get large banks to step away from one of the most convenient ways to nickel-and-dime their customers, but if we have to watch a commercial while waiting for our cash, it might as well really be worth it. Looking at an ad in exchange for a completely free transaction seems like a much bigger win than looking at one for a slightly-less-expensive one.

Right now, one of these ATMs is being tested at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. More will be added around town if it’s successful, and in all likelihood if this works out it’s something other companies might try in the future. It should be interesting to see if this catches on.

[Via CNN Money]

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