When ATMs turn bad

Last updated 16:30 03/12/2013

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People are being short-changed by malfunctioning 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 her office had dealt with cases recently involving transactions that had been incorrectly recorded by the machines.

In the year to July, her office received 40 complaints about ATMs. Of those, 18 involved people receiving less money from an ATM withdrawal than was debited from their account, but only two of those progressed to the point where the ombudsman had to step in.

The rest were referred back to the banks and resolved by their internal disputes processes.

In one of the disputes, a woman deposited $1055 in her bank's ATM, but it recorded receiving only $330.

She cancelled the transaction and received $330 back. She complained to the bank but it 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 it decided the ATM was balanced correctly and refused to reimburse him.

He complained to the banking ombudsman who asked the bank to obtain proof that the machine had balanced and, on 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, Ms 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 referred to the Banking Ombudsman Scheme involve its investigators obtaining security video footage to observe what happened and seeking proof from banks that their machines were accurate.Fairfax NZ

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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