Frustration over alleged issues at Fairlie's only ATM

People lined up to use the ATM in Fairlie on Easter Monday.
Daisy Hudson

People lined up to use the ATM in Fairlie on Easter Monday.

Concerns have been raised about the reliability of Fairlie's only ATM machine following the closure of the town's last remaining bank.

Retailers have complained about people asking for cash out because the Westpac ATM machine was often not working.

The perceived problem was exacerbated on Monday when queues of people wanting cash for entry fees to the Mackenzie A&P Show were frustrated when the machine allegedly stopped working.

However, Westpac has described claims the machine often runs out of cash as "completely untrue".

MGL Caltex Fairlie manager Robyn McGilligan​ said the machine was often "temporarily down".

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She said she gets a minimum of one complaint a fortnight from people unable to withdraw cash.

"Lately is has been once a week," she said.

She said it often happens she could get cash out but not deposit daily takings, or she can make a deposit but not get cash.

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Great Outdoors and More owner Daniel Heslip​ opened his new store for the first time on Easter Monday, also the day of the A&P show. He said he tried to get cash out about 8.30am but the machine failed.

"I put my card in and it asked me to contact the local branch, which we ain't got no more," Heslip said.

By 10am he noticed people were walking away with money.

"Right from the start it was having problems, then it came right," he said.

Sandy McHaffie said she was on gate sales at one of the show's entry points.

She said entry was $15 an adult and $5 a child.

"There was a lot of people complaining they couldn't get money from the machine," she said.

Fairlie Bakehouse owner Franz Lieber said he heard from customers on Monday the machine was not working and he was doling out cash for those who could not get any. 

He said about half a dozen people complained but once he started allowing people to get cash out with a purchase it "opened the floodgates".

"I gave about $2500 because the money machine was not working," he said.

Westpac media relations manager Hilary Marett said the ATM had not run out of cash, and had been "well stocked" for the holiday weekend.

"In fact our team have checked reports from the last few months and there is no record of that ATM running out of cash. Reports that the ATM ran out of cash are completely untrue."

Mackenzie Mayor Graham Smith said the situation was very disappointing for Fairlie when 15,000 people were in town for the biggest show in the country.

"It is not a satisfactory result for Fairlie," Smith said.

"This issue also happened at Easter weekend last year. I am very disappointed.

"Ideally (Westpac) should open the bank again but that wouldn't solve the issue because it is a bank holiday. They need to monitor it and ensure there is sufficient funds for these events and days," he said. 

Marett said a jam in the ATM was recorded by the bank at just after 5.30pm on Saturday.

"Our contractors were called out to repair it and the ATM was back in service at around 9.30am the following morning, Sunday 16 April. Though not common, these faults do happen from time-to-time and our suppliers worked through the public holiday to make the repair."

"We apologise for any inconvenience to our customers and the Fairlie community."

Marett also said via email that during Easter last year, a power failure on the Monday afternoon resulted in the Fairlie ATM being out of service for eight minutes. The machine was also out of service for a total of 20 minutes between 10.30am and 1.30pm on Easter Monday 2016 due to software issues.

"More generally, any ATM may fail to read a card – either because of a fault with the card, or because a dirty card has affected the machine's reader. Westpac has a proactive maintenance programme in place to ensure these instances are minimised; typically, this might happen in significantly less than half a percent of transactions," she said.

 - Stuff

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