Consumer Confidential: Chase lowers ATM fees, auto sales surge, tomatoes recalled
--Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Chase bank is lowering the $4 and $5 ATM fees it experimented with for non-customers using its machines. The fees will drop back to $3, as in the rest of the country. Chase declined to specify the reason for the decision, but it hasn't been alone in seeking new ways to boost profits amid tighter regulations for checking accounts and credit cards. Chase began testing higher fees for non-customers in early February. In Texas, non-customers were charged $4. In Illinois, they were charged $5. Chase operates the second-largest ATM network in the country, with 16,000 machines. Is it possible that banks are starting to realize there's a limit to how deeply they can reach into people's pockets?
--April may be the cruelest month, but not for automakers. General Motors says it sold 232,538 vehicles in April, a 26% gain from the same month a year earlier. GM regained its position as the biggest auto seller after coming in second to Ford in March. Ford's April sales totaled 189,778, up 16% compared with the same month a year earlier. Volkswagen of America sold 28,542 vehicles in April, a 23% gain from the same month a year ago and its best monthly total since November 2003. The brand was helped by its Jetta compact sedan, which sold 16,955 units, up 74% from a year earlier. With gas prices rising, April was an especially hot month for small and fuel-efficient vehicles.
--Heads up: A salmonella scare has prompted a recall of grape tomatoes. Taylor Farms Pacific of Tracy, a major distributor, received a notice from one of its growers that a specific lot of grape tomatoes may be contaminated with salmonella. The grower has issued an immediate recall. Grape tomatoes are often used in salads, but also in a number of other pre-prepared food products sold in grocery stores. Products using the recalled tomatoes were sold at Albertsons, Raley's, Safeway, Savemart, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. No illnesses have been reported. Customers may return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more info, contact Taylor Farms Pacific (209) 835-6300 or visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Chase has scrapped plans to raise ATM fees to as much as $5. Credit: Peter Foley / EPA