Bank of America, the company that led the charge for instituting fees for using human tellers, is making an about face. Starting this month, the bank will roll out a fleet of ATMs that allow you to interact live with a human bank teller.
The new machines are called ATM with Teller Assist. Throughout the year, existing BoA ATMs will be replaced with newer models that allow you to cash checks to the penny, split payments between accounts, and more notably, press a button and speak to a human being in real time. The new interactive ATMs are being introduced in Boston first; they’ll reach other major U.S. cities later in the year.
The ATMs will dispense cash 24 hours a day, but teller services will only be available between the hours of 7AM and 10PM local time on weekdays, and between 8AM and 5PM on Saturdays. Tellers will be available in both English and Spanish.
These new human-powered ATMs represent an interesting reversal of a long-term trend towards fewer bank tellers. In the 1990s, Bank of America instituted an unpopular and quickly discontinued policy of charging a $2 fee for using human bank tellers for transactions that could otherwise be completed at an ATM. The bank reprised that fee in 2010, when it began charging certain customers an $8.95 monthly fee for accessing human tellers.