The ATM Wars

In California today, it's the revenge of the big banks on the subject of those automated teller fees that have become such a sore point for ATM users nationwide.

In one of the first cities to impose caps on those fees, Bank of America and Wells Fargo today led the charge to keep those charges intact. CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales has the story.

Customers at some ATMs in Santa Monica today just wanted to get their money but instead of cash, the machines spit out an attack on the city government.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo are fighting back against a new city law that bans them from charging an extra fee when non-account holders withdraw money.

The banks say from now on only their customers will be able to get cash from their ATM's in Santa Monica.

"What other business that you know of gives away a product or service for free to a non-customer? What other business?" says Bank of America's Liam McGee. "Do you walk into the grocery store and walk away with a carton of milk for free because you're not a customer of that store?"

There is, of course, another view. "The big banks are acting like spoiled children who are taking their ball and going home to play," says Santa Monica city council member Michael Feinstein.

Santa Monica's leaders say the banks have been gouging consumers with high ATM fees for years--and now they're trying to bully the public.

"The banks are gonna find that this public relations ploy is ill conceved and will backfire on them," says Feinstein.

But the banks appear to be digging in. They're already promising to impose similar restrictions on their ATM's in San Francisco, where residents also voted to ban surcharges.

The banks warn the days of easy access to cash could be numbered if more cities ban ATM fees. They say they need the money to run their ATM networks and without it, some banks could stop providing ATM's altogether.