Doing business with a human teller will soon cost First National Bank of Chicago customers $3.
The bank plans to impose the charge on June 1, saying it hopes the fee will encourage customers to use less costly automatic teller machines."This is the wave of the future," said Leo Mullin, First Chicago president and chief operating officer.
Consumer groups blasted the move, saying it will hit teenage, elderly and disabled customers the hardest.
"It's a stupid way to earn customer trust," said Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Added said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America: "We're sure that $3 is a carefully calculated figure . . . it's about the limit people will pay before they pick up and go somewhere else."
The bank also will offer a basic checking account with no minimum balance or monthly fees as long as customers make all transactions at ATMs.
Customers can escape the $3 teller fee by keeping a minimum of $250 to $750 a month in their accounts, depending on various programs the bank offers, some of which carry separate monthly fees of $7 to $20.