What happens when ATMs get it wrong?

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 13:40 02/12/2013

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People have been short-changed by faulty ATMs which fail to deliver the correct amount of money.

The Banking Ombudsman has released a guide to ATMs in an attempt to educate users on what can go wrong with the machines.

Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell said they had dealt with a number of interesting cases recently involving transactions that had been incorrectly recorded by the machine.

"In one case, a large amount of money got stuck in the back of the machine and the complainant's claim the machine was hiding her money was only proved correct when the funds were found during routine maintenance," Battell said.

In that case a woman deposited $1055 in her bank's ATM but it only recorded receiving $330.

The woman cancelled the transaction and only received $330 back. She complained to the bank but they could not find the money.

It was only after she complained to the Banking Ombudsman that a maintenance person opened the machine and found the missing money, which was then refunded.

In another case a man went to withdraw $200 from a different bank's ATM.

The ATM advised it could not process the transaction but the man's account was still debited.

He contacted his bank, which in turn contacted the bank responsible for the ATM but they decided the ATM was balanced correctly and refused to reimburse him.

He complained to the Banking Ombudsman who asked the bank to obtain proof the machine had balanced and, upon investigation, $200 extra cash was found inside it. The man was reimbursed the $200 and given an additional $100 in compensation.

The cases highlighted some of the things which could go wrong during what could seem a simple process, Battell said.

"Most problems are easily sorted out between customers and their banks so the first thing is to complain to your own bank," she said.

"This is the case even if you have used another bank's ATM.

"On rare occasions the situation may be more complicated and customers can ask the Banking Ombudsman to help if they are not satisfied with the bank's response."

Complaints investigated by the Banking Ombudsman Scheme have involved its investigators obtaining security video footage to observe what happened and seeking proof from banks that their machines were accurate.

The first port of call should always be the cardholder's bank, but if they were not forthcoming then people could complain to the Banking Ombudsman.

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- Fairfax Media

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