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Washington Mutual Frees Chicago From $1.50 ATM Surcharge

Company Doubles Its Stores With 32 New Chicagoland Locations, Kicks Off

Advertising Blitz and Brings Surcharge-Free ATMs to Downtown Chicago

CHICAGO, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Washington Mutual today gave back the buck-fifty to more than 1,000 fee-weary consumers, marking the arrival of surcharge-free ATMs in downtown Chicago. Coin purses containing $1.50 were handed out in the Loop as the bank, joined by Congressman Luis Gutierrez and State Representative John Fritchey, announced 32 new retail banking stores across Chicagoland, hundreds of new jobs, and the start of an extensive advertising campaign. The company has now opened 60 stores in just two months.

For years, consumers and Chicago leaders have called for an end to the ATM surcharge fee, only to be stymied by court decisions and big commercial banks. According to a Federal Reserve study released in June, 89% of all banks now surcharge non-customer ATM users. Washington Mutual is the only major bank with a no-surcharge policy, so anyone can use their ATMs without being surcharged.

"Consumers are tired of being nickel-and-dimed by banks, so we're saying the buck-fifty stops here," said Tony Manisco, senior vice president and group manager for Washington Mutual retail banking in Illinois. "We've opened 60 locations in Chicagoland since mid-June with ten more to come by year-end, so it's getting easier for people to find a safe haven from nuisance fees other banks are so fond of."

"Too often consumers pay unnecessary fees just to access their money," said Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. "Washington Mutual is doing the right thing for overcharged consumers by allowing everyone to use their ATMs without the typical surcharge."

Most banks charge a surcharge fee -- usually in the range of $1.50 to $2.00 -- to non-customers who use their ATMs. Washington Mutual is announcing surcharge-free ATMs at all of its Chicagoland locations. A person accessing a non-Washington Mutual account at a Washington Mutual ATM may still be charged a fee by their own bank.

Also today, Washington Mutual launched a major mass advertising campaign in Chicago, including hundreds of television spots, thousands of radio ads, hundreds of print placements and more than a thousand out of home units. The campaign will reach all areas of Chicagoland via mass market, local and ethnic media -- including specific campaigns for Chicago's African-American and Hispanic communities. The campaign, scheduled to run through November, promotes WaMu's Free Checking and surcharge-free ATMs. The campaign also features a fleet of London Cabs offering customers and non-customers "free rides to the home of Free Checking."

"Our advertising will reach Chicagoans with a loud and clear message -- there's a new way to bank in town," said Brad Davis, executive vice president of marketing and brand management for retail banking at Washington Mutual. "We are a consumer-focused company and we're pretty sure there's no rule that says bankers can't smile and maybe even have a little bit of fun. That comes through in our humor and our very un-banklike approach to advertising."

With the opening of 32 additional retail banking stores throughout the metropolitan area, including four stores in downtown Chicago, WaMu will add more than 200 jobs to the thousands it already employs in banking and mortgage operations. The first wave of 28 stores launched on June 23. WaMu expects to have at least 70 stores operating in the Chicagoland area by the end of the year.

    Washington Mutual financial stores opened today at the following
locations:

     1226 S. Canal St.
     Chicago

     1811 W. North Ave.
     Chicago

     206 N. Michigan Ave.
     Chicago

     311 S. Wacker Dr.
     Chicago

     609 W. North Ave.
     Chicago

     555 W. Monroe St.
     Chicago

     200 W. Randolph St.
     Chicago

     712 E. 87th St.
     Chicago

     3252 N. Lincoln Ave.
     Chicago

     4113 N. Harlem Ave.
     Norridge

     305 Waukegan Rd.
     Lake Bluff

     1539 Lake St.
     Mundelein

     2757 Pfingsten Rd.
     Glenview

     7145 Central Ave.
     Skokie

     23 S. Northwest Hwy.
     Park Ridge

     500 N. Milwaukee Ave.
     Libertyville

     214 E. Geneva Rd.
     Wheaton

     241 Rice Lake Sq.
     Wheaton

     527 E. Roosevelt Rd.
     Lombard

     1047 S. Roselle Rd.
     Schaumburg

     1236 S. Naper Blvd.
     Naperville

     149 N. Weber Rd.
     Bolingbrook

     7317 S. Lemont Rd.
     Downers Grove

     62 Ogden Ave.
     Downers Grove

     741 E. Boughton Rd.
     Bolingbrook

     2217 Route 59
     Joliet

     3036 Wolf Rd.
     Westchester

     7700 Broadview Village Sq.
     Broadview

     3080 Caton Farm Rd.
     Joliet

     17735 Halsted St.
     Homewood

     16801 Torrence Ave.
     Lansing

     2428 W. Lincoln Hwy.
     Olympia Fields

    About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM) is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small businesses. At June 30, 2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $283.20 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,650 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamu.com .

SOURCE  Washington Mutual
    -0-                             08/25/2003
    /CONTACT:  Tara Williams of Washington Mutual, +1-973-280-1976,
tara.williams@wamu.net , or Marci May of Jasculca-Terman and Associates, Inc.
for Washington Mutual, +1-312-573-5464, marci_may@jtpr.com /
    /Web site:  http://www.wamu.com /
    (WM)

CO:  Washington Mutual
ST:  Illinois
IN:  FIN ADV
SU:  PDT HSP BLK



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7289 08/25/2003 13:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com