Chalk this one up to experience and as confirmation of my theory that Americans are being nickeled and dimed to death.

Last Friday I was running late to meet some folks in Downtown New Bedford for a little St. Patrick's Day celebration,  After finding a primo parking spot near my destination I stopped into a bank to withdraw some cash to pay for my corned beef and cabbage dinner.  It was not my bank, which is located blocks away from where my friends were waiting, so, I agreed to pay the $3 bank fee for withdrawing cash from their ATM.

I've always found it outrageous that you can be charged a fee for using an ATM.  What does the fee cover exactly?  It was worth the expense in order to avoid being later than I already was.

Fast forward to Monday morning.  In balancing my checkbook after a busy weekend I noticed that in addition to the $3 fee, which was applied to my total withdrawal, there was an additional, separate $3 fee charged to my account.  A quick call to the bank where the withdrawal was made and I learned that all of the area banks use the same ATM network and that my own bank charges me a $3 fee simply for using that system at a bank other than theirs.  This fact was confirmed with a follow up call to my own bank.  "It happens all the time," I am told.

Now, I realize that many of you are probably shaking your heads and thinking that I am quite a dope for not knowing that this is standard operating procedure.  Just about everyone in the office did.  I generally use my debit card rather than cash and on those occasions when I do need cash I must always use my own bank because I don't recall this happening before.

It's only three bucks here and three bucks there, but, when you add it all all adds up!

I remember asking my aging father once, "Why don't you just deposit your check in the bank and use a debit card like the rest of the world?"  After all, it is more convenient, no?  His reply seems now to make some sense, "Why would I want to pay a fee to a bank to use ,my own money?"  Good question.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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