Cardtronics has introduced transaction charges on 2,000 previously free-to-use ATMs since the beginning of 2019.

In its annual results released this month, the ATM operator, which also trades as Cashzone and DC Payments, described the move as “operational improvements”, but retailers told RN the new 95p charges had destroyed the viability of the service.

“My transactions have fallen off a cliff. I added a free-to-use ATM as a service to the community, now I’m making less commission and it looks like I’m exploiting the people I was trying to help,” said one retailer.

Despite representing a change to the free-to-access model retailers agreed to, contracts seen by RN deny store owners the right to exit the agreement. 

The NFRN also attacked the firm for trapping stores in “cynical and unacceptable” agreements. 

This includes requiring some retailers give a one-year exit notice period, one year before the end of a contract, and automatic rollover of partnered stores into new five-year terms without warning or renewed consent. 

Store owners can serve their notice period at any time to prevent their contract rolling over. To receive a free template letter to send to Cardtronics, email RN at editorial@newtrade.co.uk.  

The company blamed a 10% cut to the Link interchange fee that banks pay operators for each transaction. It said it expected this to hit its profits by £14.4m in 2019.

With further cuts to the fee planned, the company has also announced more store owners could have transaction charges put on their machines. 

“We may continue to take additional actions to mitigate the impact of the current and potential future price reductions,” it warned.

NFRN national president Mike Mitchelson said he had “sympathy” for the operator’s position but said this “fundamental change” to the original terms “should not be forced on shop owners”, and warned the NFRN would be seeking legal advice on the company’s agreements.

RN and the NFRN called on Cardtronics to make the contracts fair for customers by adding a break clause when the machines are switched to pay-to-use, warning retailers before the contract rolls over, and reducing the notice period required at the end of contracts.

Cardtronics refused to respond to the request.

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