ATM suppliers charging customers for cash withdrawals have been defended by Tom Fender, managing director of shopper research company Harris International Marketing, following adverse national press coverage.

“Many ATM companies are relatively new start-ups without the capital reserve of the high street banks and building societies,” he said. “So it is necessary for them to charge a fee in return for the installation, maintenance and convenience of their ATMs,” he said.

“These ATM providers should not be seen as exploiting shoppers, as people, by and large, are not coming into neighbourhood stores and forecourts only to withdraw cash. They are also using the money they withdraw to buy other products they require. For instance a HIM survey shows that of those who use a cash machine at a convenience store, 25% buy milk, 25% buy bread, 25% buy confectionery, and 25% buy cigarettes.

“Consumer choice is growing and catchments are becoming ever smaller. We know that most shoppers at convenience stores travel less than a mile to the store, and it is fairly likely that the banks will not be offering a free ATM within that distance.

“Similarly not all banks have car parks, and if they do it is often impossible to get a space outside them. But every forecourt shop gives shoppers the opportunity to pull over and use the ATM. We now live in a society that is totally convenience focused – people want the things they want and now. This applies to cash just as much as it does to food products.”