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Pat Quinn Rides Again

By Matt Wood in News on Dec 11, 2006 3:23PM

chicagoist_200612_quinn.jpgLt. Gov. Pat Quinn continues to swing the whooping stick, taking shots at big business for gouging customers. Last month he scolded Exelon's CEO for claiming that without hiking rates the utility company could go bankrupt, despite pulling down an Alex Rodriguez salary. "The head of ComEd [Exelon chairman John Rowe] makes $27 million a year. It'll take him one minute of his salary to pay the higher electric rates," he said. Then last week, he said downstate power provider Ameren should pay fines out of the executive kitty for not fixing winter storm power outages quickly enough. Now, he wants banks to eliminate ATM surcharges.

Quinn's beef this time lies with banks that "double dip," or charge non-customers fees to use their ATMs then also charge their own customers fees for using other banks' ATMs. His office told the AP that banks make $18 billion a year on ATM fees nationwide. He wants to introduce legislation that would force banks doing business with the state to sign agreements pledging to cut out ATM fees.

This is a nice idea, but Chicagoist won't hold our breath for big savings. If it only includes banks doing business with the state, how many does that affect? Enough for a good start we suppose, but what about those one-off ATMs in gas stations, convenience stores, and bars that aren't affiliated with a particular bank, the ones that really zing you with the $3.00+ usage fees? For what it's worth, Chicagoist's bank gives us five "free" cash withdrawals from competing ATMs per month. We still pay the fee on the front end but they don't slap us with another $1.50 on our statement, a practice that seemed to become more common once WaMu came to town offering free everything to crack the local market. This strategy may not have worked out for them, but it was good for competition. Besides, we try to limit our cash withdrawals and use credit and debit cards to help with the record keeping, and save the cash for when we really need it, like paying for lap dances and our undocumented babysitter.