The U.S. government has passed a law that eliminates a requirement, dating back to October 1st 2001, for ATMs to carry transaction fee notice decals on the exterior of the machines. Although the law eliminates the need for stickers on ATMs, it requires ATM operators to continue providing on-screen notices requiring users to consent to any transaction fees before completing the transactions. This news has been met with optimism from the ATM industry.
“This is great news for our industry and should eventually eliminate the most egregious source of frivolous lawsuits for ATM owners, operators and deployers,” said David Tente, executive director of the U.S. chapter of the ATM Industry Association. Many ATM owners and operators believed the fee disclosure stickers were redundant because the disclosure also appeared on the ATM screens, which require an acceptance of transaction fees before a withdrawal can occur.
But in the last few years, hundreds of class action lawsuits were filed claiming an exterior notice had not been present at the time of the transaction. Some of these cases are still in litigation. “For those [industry] members who remain involved in Reg E litigation, it is hoped that the courts will consider the change in the law as part of their deliberations," Tente said. In some cases, the recovery could be as much as the value of all surcharges imposed on a given ATM during an extended period of time or the lesser of 1% of the net worth of the ATM owner/operator or $500,000.
While the old requirement was active, eight fee sticker complaints were filed against ATM Systems. Although the company showed that it was diligent in maintaining compliance with the regulation, it ended up eventually settling the suits to avoid racking up additional legal fees. “It was ridiculous”, states Gil Lovett, President of ATM Systems, “ambulance chasing lawyers started crawling out of the woodwork, soliciting people all over the country. Suddenly, anyone with a paint scraper and a pocket camera could remove the decals and profit from the requirement by filing a lawsuit.”
The new federal law affects most states, however, some (such as Massachusetts) still that require exterior signage. ATM Systems believes the next rash of ATM lawsuits will stem from the American With Disabilities Act. “Watch out for people with 20/20 vision that have been ‘harmed” by withdrawing cash from an ATM that has an audio malfunction, or is missing a Braille sticker”, says Gil Lovett. The industry should be diligent about protecting itself.
About ATM Systems:
ATM Systems provides comprehensive, customized ATM solutions…..at its sole cost. It delivers its unique systems primarily within the hospitality industry in more than 40 states. Founded in 1996, the company pioneered the idea of customizing ATM solutions to fit hotel environments. To see what ATM Systems can do for you, visit http://www.atmsystems.com.