Bank Of America Dispenses Phantom Cash, Uberbank Bureaucracy Doesn't Seem Too Worried

Sometimes, our mailbag reads like some kind of reality-based personal finance version of the Penthouse Forum. “I never understood why people are so angry with big banks,” our readers type, “until one of those horror stories happen to me.” That’s sort of what happened to Kestris. She and her husband are longtime Bank of America customers who never really had any problems with the bank. Until they did. It was a big one: when they withdrew their rent from an ATM, the machine made bill-counting whirring noises, but dispensed no cash.

On Sept 6, at approx. 735am, my husband went to the ATM right down the street, at the local BOA branch, here in [redacted] Virginia. It’s convenient because it’s less than half a block away, unlike our other bank, which is across the city. That ATM was currently under repair, so he ended up going to the next closest BoA ATM, about 1.5 miles away. Big mistake.

He attempted to withdraw money to pay our rent. Only the ATM never gave him the money- he said it never made the counting the money noise, never opened the slot nothing, but said the transaction had completed, so he requested- on the same transaction- a receipt, which stated the money had been withdrawn.

So if he didn’t get it, where’d it go? Certainly not out into the world, as the machine never spit it out.

He came home in a semi panic and had me log on to online banking to double check our account. I did so, and it showed a withdrawal processing in the amount he attempted to take out. So he went BACK to the ATM, to double check- though I believe if you don’t take the money, it would draw it back in, and if the money had never even been sent out, what was there to look for…?

Meanwhile, I started an online chat with a BoA representative, A. I explained the situation and asked what we should do. She stated that she could see the withdrawal processing and that we had to wait until it either posted or dropped off- essentially we had to wait until tomorrow to do anything.

When my husband returned after a futile search at the ATM, I told him what the BoA rep in the online chat had said. He called work, explained what was going on, that he’d be in late and decided to talk to a person at the branch itself when they opened at 9am.

He had a receipt with the timestamp and I told him to request that they watch the video from the ATM, which we thought would show he never received the money. We didn’t have very high hopes at this point, figuring THEY would say we had to wait to see if it posted or dropped off, or until they counted the ATM- if they do that, even. Either way, we would still have to call the landlord and tell him our rent would be late- not something one likes to do.

After 30 minutes at the branch where the non-money giving ATM was located, all he had to show for it was a claim number with instructions to call the 1-800 number included if the money didn’t show up in 48 hours. Yeah. 48 hours. Over a weekend. (Yes, I understand that this is likely standard procedure, but it’s still very frustrating, especially when it’s over a weekend.)

It’s a good thing we have a very awesome landlord.

Now, the husband will be talking to payroll and come Monday, even if the money shows back up, we will begin the process of closing our Bank of America account, the same account we’ve had for 16+ years with very little issues- of course, we’ve never had a mortgage or any other kind of loan through them either. Luckily there’s no automatic deductions setup, so that will make it easier. Yes, I plan to watch it for quite awhile in case it decides to zombify on us.

This is the first time something like this has ever happened to us, but now I completely understand all those people who got fed up with BoA’s shennanigans and closed their accounts. Because we are now some of those very same people. Lesson learned- the hard way.

A smaller bank wouldn’t have had online chat reps to talk to, but also might have had more personable solution than “wait 48 hours, then call this 800 number.” This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend.

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    I blame the OP for using Bunk of AmƎriKa. Know thy enemy.

    • Kestris says:

      Yeah, well, I blame my husband.}:P

      • GOInsanity says:

        Not sure why, but that made me laugh hard enough that my coworkers think I’m crazy.

        • Kestris says:

          I told him I could have walked down to the bank and gotten the money via a teller (which I did today, it’s only a block away and exercise is good for you, so they say), but he insisted on trying to be extra nice and getting the money order himself.

          That’ll teach him.

      • Crank says:

        Sorry to be mean, but I blame both of you. Seriously.

        You state elsewhere your are a 16 year customer of BOA. So it isn’t like you’re a 21 year old with no money and even less judgment. You have a history of bouncing checks. You are not learning from your mistakes.

        This incident should be nothing more than an admittedly large annoyance. You and your husband need to stop living paycheck to paycheck. Paying rent on the 6th, equals already late rent and you’re on the last day of the no late fee grace period.

        Grow up, the two of you. Stop living beyond your means. Save an appropriate emergency fund. Six months worth of living expanses, but getting one month ahead is the first step. Work overtime, cancel your cable, stop eating out, watch other people’s children if you are stuck at home watching your own. Whatever it takes, just do it.

        • Kestris says:

          The only time we bounced a check was 8-9 years ago. We never wrote another check after that. Before that? Never bounced a check. We made a single mistake in regards to a check and learned our lesson.

          Oh, and before BoA, we had Marine Federal, but we had to leave that CU when we got out of the Marines.

          We don’t eat out, we have a savings account that we sock money into when we can- but it was still not nearly enough to cover rent- and we only go on a vacation once a year to see my family several states away, which incidently, we had JUST gotten back from. We have no debt beyond a car payment and that we’re paying off early. And we have no kids, though we do have pets that eat better than us (raw fed, if it matters to you).

          Our other bills are paid in full, generally before they’re even due. Our landlord has told us that as long as we call when it’s going to be late, he doesn’t care. He even got mad at us when we kept paying the late fee on the few occasions we did end up paying late and told us to stop it.

          In this economy, we’re doing way better than most. Hell, we even have health insurance on both of us!

          So.

          Next blame game?

          • theblackdog says:

            Former uniformed service and leaving BofA, may I suggest USAA for your next bank?

            /Doesn’t work for them, just a very happy customer.

            • Sneeje says:

              Me too.

            • jumpycore says:

              agreed. try USAA. they seriously have the best service in the history of ever. only problem is they don’t have any sort of actual bank. but you can deposit cashiers checks and the like by mailing them in. and if you get any charges from atm’s they’ll put it back into your account at the end of the month. i’ve never had a problem with them and while i was downrange i was a victim of stolen debit card info and they put the money right back into my acct 2 days later

          • PercussionQueen7 says:

            Don’t listen to this guy. Some of us have no other choice then to live paycheck to paycheck – once you’re at that level, it takes a helluva lot to pull yourself up – and both money and time to do it, which at least for me, there is never enough.

            Some people have never been there. And some just blame the OP no matter what. Glad to heard it got resolved and that you have a sympathetic landlord. My bitchass apartment complex would have said “That’s nice. $25/day late fee. NEXT!”

        • Kestris says:

          And we also have no credit cards either. So I don’t believe we are ‘living beyond our means’ in any way, thank you very much.

          • crashfrog says:

            No offense – whenever you describe your financial situation, someone at Consumerist will tell you you’re doing it all wrong – but you actually sound like someone in a situation where a little rotating credit could be a good thing. If being able to float stuff on a credit card to deal with the time delay between bills coming due and getting the paycheck that pays them off avoids late fees, it can be worth it. Plus it’s an option to deal with these no-fault-of-your-own emergencies that can tie up your money, an option that doesn’t rely on the good graces of an awesome landlord.

            Get one credit card, small limit and low interest rate, and freeze it in a block of ice. Access to credit isn’t actually a bad thing. Households and businesses use credit all the time to deal with cash-flow timing issues.

          • Delicious Spam is delicious says:

            you must have cats then. blame them. and the intertubes that ate them.

          • grabacontroller says:

            People like to make assumptions without knowing the facts. It’s so annoying.

        • Sneeje says:

          Wow, you were totally owned by Kestris! Take your own advice, grow up and learn your lesson about being all preachy and judgmental…

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Your name is very appropriate

        • Kisses4Katie says:

          Hey hey. I don’t really feel it’s right to judge someone for living paycheck to paycheck. So many people from all walks of life have to do just that in this day and age. And no, most people are just barely surviving on what they make and certainly not living beyond their means. If wages were livable, more people could avoid these kinds of situations. What sucks is that the bank can screw you over in a matter of seconds, and it can take weeks if not months for them to straighten out the mess they made. If you don’t have a lot of money to begin with, something like this can be devastating. It could cause a torrent of overdrafts and other problems that the bank might not fix.
          I wish people would be a little less judgmental and put themselves in someone else’s situation before they spoke out of hate or misunderstanding.

          Oh by the way, most hourly jobs highly discourage you from working overtime. And on a personal note, I haven’t been able to find a second job only because I have a first job. Everyone I interview with wants me to devote all of my work time to them, even if they are only offering a few hours a week. Go out there and see what you can rustle up.

          • Laura Northrup says:

            Nah. It’s easier to lecture.

            Having a second job can actually screw you over in some ways. When I was laid off from my day job, having a night job that I went to for a few hours 3 days a week kept me from collecting unemployment.

        • Invader Zim says:

          @Crank…..Crank is to conclusion as frog is to pond.

    • Jawaka says:

      /groan

  2. TuxthePenguin says:

    Don’t bank with the giant soulless banks.

    Then again, don’t pay your rent in cash either. Checks, people, checks. You need record that you have paid. And nothing is better than a cancelled check with both your and the landlord’s signature on it.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      I was wondering about that too. I suppose they could be getting a receipt from the landlord but a check or other paper trail method is the only way I would pay.

    • nishioka says:

      I’m surprised there are landlords out there who would take cash anyway. Who wants to be a prime target for armed robbery when everyone knows you’ll be flush with cash coming in at the end of every month??

      • spartan says:

        A landlord who wants to conceal their income from the IRS. That’s who.

      • Fishnoise says:

        We’re landlords in a small way — three units, although only two are occupied at the moment. I much prefer cash, although we take checks. We give receipts either way.

        With cash I know I have the money right now, but a check is, at best, a delayed payment hostage to the reliability of the tenant, her bank, and our bank. Multiply this by the number of roommates in each unit and there’s even more potential for overdrafts or other problems.

        If we had more tenants and accumulated cash for bulk depositing, then we might have armed-robbery worries. Right now, though,

    • Kestris says:

      We don’t pay in cash and we don’t use checks either- we bounced one to our landlord 8-9 years ago and never wrote another check anywhere again. We withdraw the cash and get a money order for the rent.

      the rest of the bills are paid online, manually, with no auto deductions set up.

      • grabacontroller says:

        Ya. Checks are just bad. Some people like to hold checks and then when you spend too much your checks bounce.

  3. JoeJackson says:

    It’s quite frustrating for that to happen, but in the end, the bank needs to look at their records and balance the ATM. They could of treated the situation better, but 48h over a weekend to get the money back in your bank is not too bad.

    But good job in leaving BOA!

  4. Hoss says:

    Huh? As much as I’d enjoy piling on — I don’t see what BoA did that another bank won’t do

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Don’t question the mind of the Consumerist Collective.
      Pile on and savor the sweet, sweet moment.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      Yeah, as much as I dislike the behemoth that is BofA, it actually looks like BofA handled it very well. There was a hardware/software issue at the ATM, BofA verified and then refunded the money within 48 hours. That wouldn’t make me want to leave my bank, that would make me like them better.

      • IphtashuFitz says:

        The money hasn’t been returned. They were told to call an 800 number after 48 hours if the money didn’t somehow show back by then. So they have to wait until Monday or later, and take time off of work to deal with this hassle.

        This is precisely why my wife & I left BoA a couple years ago and moved all our accounts to a local cooperative bank. Their service has been stellar. If one of their ATM’s malfunctioned I’m willing to bet I’d have a complete resolution the next morning when I walked into the main office, not some BS “wait 48 hours then call an 800 number” excuse to delay and pass the proverbial buck.

        • Snapdragon says:

          The money has been returned: “This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend.”

        • Hoss says:

          Coops might be a better choice — but it’s unlikely anyone would handle a situation on a Sunday.

          • Kestris says:

            Our other bank (Woodforest) would have, actually. (The only reason we have any accounts there is because my brother in law, who is the bank manager, nearly begged us to open an account. We use it for vacation funds.) They’re open 7 days a week and only close for Christmas.

        • GOInsanity says:

          Are you not reading the last paragraph?

          “This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend.”

    • Kestris says:

      I do believe I said that I understood that this was likely standard procedure. The frustration was the fact that that 48 hours could have actually turned into closer to 72-96 hours instead. Thankfully it only took 24 hours to resolve.

      But we are still closing the account.

      • msbaskx2 says:

        It took 24 hours to resolve. That’s sounds reasonable to me.

        I’m just curious what you think any other bank would have done.

        • Sneeje says:

          Act like its a big deal that a mistake involving a substantial sum of money (to the OP, not the bank) was fumbled in what should be a routine transaction.

          People usually judge you based on how you handle mistakes, not how you handle typical interactions. This is why your average consumers are feeling more and more powerless, because when they are negatively impacted they have no one to turn to but the business who usually shrugs. But when the business is impacted negatively by the consumer… well, that means collections agencies, criminal charges, credit report dings, etc.

          The relationship has become completely unbalanced.

      • grabacontroller says:

        Well, being stressed out like hell is probably a good reason to close the account.

    • scoosdad says:

      I had this exact thing happen to me awhile back with a predecessor bank to the BofA which eventually took over my accounts.

      Flip-flip-flip-flip… sound of money being counted… open slot, nothing there. Wanna receipt? Of course! Receipt says “you took out your money!” Uh, no I didn’t get any.

      I called the 800 on the ATM and spoke to someone. This was about 7 PM on a weeknight evening. They shut down the ATM immediately, and sent someone right out to it then and there, to count the money in the machine against what the records showed they SHOULD have had inside it, had it been dispensed properly. Agent called me back in a couple of hours (around 10 PM if I recall) and asked if I wanted to have their courier bring the cash over to my house.

      Now THAT was customer service, circa 1990.

      To the OP, the very least the bank should have done right away was to count the cash still in the machine against their records of what it should have had in it and cleared this up much sooner. Especially since this happened on a Thursday morning, and not late Friday on the cusp of a weekend. That machine has been refilled two or three times already by now.

  5. redspeed says:

    Why not just pay your landlord with a check? Its never a good idea to withdraw large amounts of cash from an ATM

    • Hoss says:

      The landlord is probably under-recording the income. Or going to the casino. Or both

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      Your post made me realize, most ATMs have a withdrawal limit of $300-600….is their rent really $600 or less?? Rent is cheap in [REDACTED]; I was paying more than that in Astoria, NY and in Baltimore Co. and Columbia, MD back in the 90s.

      • AEN says:

        I’m baffled. Rent is cheap in [REDACTED] but listing your other cities is OK. What? Consumerist wants to keep us from finding cities with the cheapest rent?

      • Kestris says:

        Our landlord is awesome, as I said. He hasn’t raised our rent in the 12 years we’ve lived here, whereas when his other duplexes come up empty, he naturally takes advantage to raise the rent to a more competative amount.

        So yes, we have really cheap rent for a wellplaced, 2 bedroom, 1 bath townhouse. And believe me, we know how lucky we are, which is why we like to pay our rent on time.}:)

        • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

          That’s great! It occurred to me that rent might be dirt cheap in some areas, and having always lived within 15 miles of NY, Baltimore, or DC, my experience might not apply.

          I did wonder if you two had considered cashing a paycheck as often as needed and keeping the cash for the rent. Interest rates are abysmal, and if you pay cash (which is a good habit to be in, generally), it would simplify things.

          And don’t let the trolls get you down!

      • timjames57 says:

        We pay 550 including utilities in my grandma’s condo in Indianapolis

    • TinaBringMeTheAx says:

      For the first year in my current apartment, I illegally sublet and gave the super cash every month.

      I then became a legal sub-tenant, then took over the (rent stabilized, yea!) lease and have paid via check ever since.

    • Kestris says:

      We pay via money order. We don’t use checks.

      • GOInsanity says:

        Don’t you have a pay a fee for money orders? Seems like a lot of running around.

        • Kestris says:

          The bank branch is a block away, there’s a gas station (that I once upon a time worked at) a block in the other direction. 99 cents for a bit of exercise and a money order I know won’t bounce like a check can potentially do if we’re not careful? I’ll take it.

          Besides, by going to the gas station, I get to talk to my former coworkers and catch up on things.

  6. snarfies says:

    I’ve had this happen at my bank, a local credit union. The screen said the transaction was completed, the receipt showed money withdrawn, but I had no money in my hand. The problem auto-corrected itself within a few hours.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I gotta be honest – I don’t see why BoA has done wrong yet. It’s completely fair to give them at least some time to verify their story. 48 hours for a refund of an ATM not giving out money seems pretty fair, given the machine probably says it gave them money, so BoA has to verify their version of the story against the machine’s data.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      48 hours is not fair at all.
      They should put the money back into your account immediately when you have a good customer history. Now if these people overdraw their account alot then I can understand why the bank wont help them any faster.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        What business puts the money back in if they can’t verify the information? Never heard of such a novel idea.

      • MrMongerty says:

        Well, most banks consider “good customer history” as having a decent balance in the account month to month. If the OP was freaking out about not being able to pay rent, then chances are they are the type to draw the account down to a few hundred bucks each month.

        Crediting an account is a real gamble for a bank, because what do they do if it turns out that the ATM did dispense the money? They can hope that these customers (who only have the one account, and virtually no other ties to the bank) decide to pay off the negative balance after they retract the money. 16 years is great, but 16 years doesn’t mean they are just going to give you money without at least some due diligance.

      • jcrawfordor says:

        48 hours seems particularly reasonable in light of the fact that in my experience whenever a bank encounters this kind of trouble with an ATM they actually call in a third-party contractor (whoever installed the ATM usually) to inspect the machine and verify the records. For a large company like BoA this is probably an internal service, but they still very likely had to have someone come from another office to go over the machine. This is going to take at least a few hours, and it’s reasonable business practice to tell people “48 hours” whenever you have this kind of issue just as a CYA move in case there’s a bigger problem that takes a while to work out. I’d suspect that in most cases it doesn’t actually take 48 hours, it probably only takes a few hours + however long it takes the transaction to post (probably the majority of the OP’s wait).

  8. binkleyz says:

    REALLY don’t see much of a beef here, apart from some inconvenience and (I’m sure) a few moments panic.

    The ATM had some sort of hardware issue, the bank noted the objection when the consumer complained about it and they refunded the $ in what seems like a very reasonable timeframe.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      Where does it say they refunded the money? The way I read the article the husband is being forced to take time off of work on Monday to go back and deal with the problem:

      “the husband will be talking to payroll and come Monday, even if the money shows back up, we will begin the process of closing our Bank of America account”

      • George4478 says:

        It says it in the article:

        “This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend. “

    • Kestris says:

      Normally when an ATM is out of money, it says out of service. It doesn’t let you run a transaction, then not give you any money. It makes me wonder how many other people did this happen to before anyone noticed that something was wrong with the machine?

      They didn’t ‘refund’ the money- the transaction, in the end, was never posted, so for them, it was as if it never happened.

      • binkleyz says:

        Well, I didn’t reading anything in TFA that said the ATM was out of cash, maybe I keep missing that.

        If is was NOT in fact empty, Isn’t it just as possible there was a hardware issue in the cash dispenser mechanism that gave a false positive for the presence of bills?

  9. Oh_No84 says:

    If the receipt showed money was dispensed I would have driven straight to the police station and filed a police report.
    That is the first thing the bank is going to ask for.

    • SirWired says:

      A police report? The money wasn’t stolen, nor was it lost. What exactly would you be reporting? What would a police report accomplish? Why would the bank ask for one?

    • Hoss says:

      Yeh, I filed charges against the Coke machine. F’n criminals

      • ve4gap says:

        I’ve at times pondered if a vending machine should be put under citizen’s
        arrest in the event it eats someone’s money. Of course that requires a
        place to keep it and the ability to move it there until the owners show up
        to “bail it out”. ^_^

    • George4478 says:

      Really? Because when they talked to the bank that was not the first thing the bank asked for. In fact the bank never asked for one and the entire situation was resolved without involving any police at all.

      • Hoss says:

        It’s not a police matter. The bank might ask for an Affidavit if the records show cash was dispensed. You just sign under the threat of perjury that nothing came out

    • Kestris says:

      That’s a bit excessive, honestly.

      Why go to the police when we could wait for the bank to open and request that they look into it? Which is what we did, even if it was extremely frustrating to be brusquely told, sorry, can’t do anything, you have to wait.

  10. LogicalOne says:

    What’s the problem here? ATM malfunctions (Not BofA’s fault. ATMs malfunction all the time, but BofA has a procedure in place to deal with it.) OP contacts bank. Bank follows procedure and launches investigation and determines correctly that malfunction occurred. Bank credits OP’s account with the correct amount. All fixed in well under the 48 hours the bank’s procedure calls for. This is probably the same or similar to the way all competent banks and credit unions would handle the matter.
    I’m not going to blame the OP, but I’d call it a life lesson for them: From now on, write a check or buy a money order to cover life’s big expenses.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      You might want to go back and re-read the article. Nothing was “fixed in well under the 48 hours the bank’s procedure calls for.” They’ve been told to call an 800 number in 48 hours if the money doesn’t re-appear. Since it’s the weekend then that 48 hours means they have to wait until Monday, at which point:

      “the husband will be talking to payroll and come Monday, even if the money shows back up, we will begin the process of closing our Bank of America account”

      • LogicalOne says:

        “On Sept 6, at approx. 735am, ..”

        And:

        “This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend.”

        September 6th was a Thursday. The money was restored to their account before Saturday the 8th. Hence, it was restored in under 48 hours from the time of the withdrawal to the time of the restoral. The article doesn’t say when the OP started her online chat with BofA but it certainly was later than the 7:35am time of withdrawal. Hence, it was even quicker than that.

      • George4478 says:

        It happened at 7:35 on Thursday the 6th and was posted here as resolved at 10:37 on Friday the 7th.

        That’s 27 hours.

    • Kestris says:

      Life lesson is exactly what is was. Which is essentially what I wrote at the end.

  11. SirWired says:

    I’m with the posters that don’t see a problem here. Malfunctions happen; it was reported, and the money returned in a fairly reasonable amount of time. 48 hours over a weekend seems uber-reasonable to me.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      The money hasn’t been returned. Go (re) read the article:

      “the husband will be talking to payroll and come Monday, even if the money shows back up, we will begin the process of closing our Bank of America account”.

      It shouldn’t take 48 hours (actually 5 days given the weekend) to resolve this. The ATM malfunctioned at 7:35am on Thursday the 6th. That give BoA two full business days before the weekend to deal with this issue. Two full business days is plenty – it really shouldn’t take more than one full business day, especially if this happened before business hours. And frankly, since most BoA branches are open at least part of the day on Saturday then they really should be able to resolve this by then and not drag this out from a Thursday to a Monday at the very least.

      • msbaskx2 says:

        Last sentence of the story: This story does have a happy ending, at least: Kestris reports that the money did show up in the account before the weekend.

      • Kman says:

        As it has been already pointed out to you they did receive the money back within 48 hours. But I also think you do not understand the meaning of 48 hours. 48 hours means 48 hours, which always includes nights and weekends. 48 hours never means 5 days. If they meant business days, they would have said that it will be 2 business days. Plus using your logic, 48 ‘business’ hours would equate to 6 business days. (six eight hour days) Factoring in weekends that would be over a week.

      • SirWired says:

        Go re-read the article yourself. They DID get the money back.

  12. MrMongerty says:

    It should be noted that the branch likely had no access to the ATM, and that they normally have to wait for the armored car service to come look at it. On a weekend, that is a pretty tall order. It is likely that the armored car service will either make an emergency trip today, or will check it on the regular route before the end of the day.

    They then have to verify that the machine is out of balance (more money in it than there should be, jammed, etc….). They likely won’t be able to mesh everything until tonight/ tomorrow. That credit into the account doesn’t come from the branch, but likely a customer service center that the Armored car company goes through. It will likely be electronically credited from a service center come Monday morning.

    Throw a Sunday in the mix, and I don’t think 48 hours is unreasonable at all.

  13. JohnDeere says:

    something similar happened to me. i deposited a check and it went in crooked and the machine tried to spit it out, but it didnt a got crammed in there somehow. they gave me the same 800 number and all they did when i called was credit my account. they said it wasnt worth the time to look for the check.

  14. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I personally do everything I can do to avoid BoA, but machines fail, and processes to deal with them are going to take some time. No bank manager is going to want to review video if the standard procedures (which probably involve counting the ATM at specified intervals) will deal with it.

    This really doesn’t seem like a failing on the part of BoA. If everyone had 3-6 months of savings it would be a complete non issue, but I do understand that can be tough for the majority.

  15. Klay says:

    When this happened to me at a non-related branch, I also went inside to start an inquiry. After my story, they said the bank-labled ATM was not part of their system-that it belonged to the armored car company. They stated they would have to request an audit of the machine and for me to check back in a few days. I took a seat and stated “no problem–I’ll just wait here”. That got their attention, I got the manager on the case and within a few days, I had my money back. I asked “what about the interest?” “You had my money for nearly a week and I’d like interest on the loan”. I got a bank check for twenty-eight cents.

  16. STXJK says:

    I don’t see this as a sign of BOA’s failure either. What I do see is a hair-trigger decision, caused by the number of bad press stories about BOA (which are valid). But I would absolutely understand that the bank would need some time to investigate – and I’m happy for that! I don’t think I could bank somewhere that would simply take all of their customer’s word for it when they claim that they didn’t get cash from a machine and just fork it over. That’s not good business practice. And yes, it takes time to pull videos, check balances in an ATM, and so on.

  17. Press1forDialTone says:

    Funny though, at my credit union the same thing happened but when I got my atm
    card, it told me what to do in this order:

    1) Keep the receipt if the machine gave me one and if not, note the time and location
    of the problem and the atm.

    2) If possible, go to another same credit union atm and make the same withdrawal but
    they stressed this was optional. If I did keep that receipt too.

    3) Call a 1-800 number as soon as possible and explain what happened.

    They were able
    to go online, query the atm, determine that it was “over” (meaning it did not dispense during
    a transaction) and that it went into that state or was already in that state during or after
    my transaction.

    They froze the atm and put it out of order, reversed my bad transaction, and credited
    my account $5 for the inconvenience.

    When I asked how they were able to do this so quickly, they explained that since they
    do not outsource their atms (they are managed, programmed and handled in-house by
    their own IT dept), they have the software available to handle atm malfunctions.

    Reason $3907 to move your day to day banking to a credit union.

  18. The Unincorporated Man says:

    The fun part is whatever bank you switch to will have the identical policy!

    This is standard in banking, for what it’s worth. Only way to dodge it is not use ATM’s in dire situations, go into the branch itself if at all possible.

  19. scoosdad says:

    Poor Kestris. First the problem of her cash and the ATM, and then to have to keep jumping in here to defend herself as the story’s OP, or explain more about what happened. Been there, done that. llegitimi non carborundum.

    Great that you got your money back eventually!

  20. Milquetoast says:

    I hate piling on, but it seems to me this would be a good opportunity to analyze the procedure being used to pay bills. I know it’s cliche, but seriously… it’s 2012. There are so many more options that are infinitely more reliable than withdrawing cash from an ATM and then going to a separate location to purchase a money order. What happens if you get mugged between the bank and the gas station? I’m having flashbacks to the conversation I had with my 80-year-old grandparents about the dangers of handling large amounts of cash for bills.

    Obviously you’re worried about writing a physical check. At my bank, when I use online bill payment to issue a check, the money is taken from my account immediately. The check takes a couple days to arrive, but if your landlord is as awesome as you say, it sounds like it wouldn’t be an issue.

    As someone else mentioned, a credit card with a small limit that’s frequently paid off can do wonders for people in this sort of situation. It can certainly free you up from having to be at an ATM at 7:30am to get cash for a money order once every month.

  21. PragmaticGuy says:

    Closing the account (which obviously doesn’t have a ton of money in it and BoA probably isn’t looking for that kind of customer anyhow) seems excessive over one error in 16 years that they had the account.

  22. NorthAlabama says:

    my only issue with this story – isn’t technology advanced enough so that an atm could self diagnose the issue of not dispensing any money, and close itself down?

    i can only imagine there are steps in place to prevent the atm from dispensing too much money…

  23. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I think the REAL moral of this story is “Don’t share any of your banking woes with Consumerist, or the Know-It-Alls will jump on you and tell you exactly why you deserve to get what happened to you because you banked there, and then proceed to tell you why you’re doing everything else in your life wrong too.”

  24. 808 says:

    We used an ATM overseas in a small town, no video camera by the machine. No sounds except the printing of our receipt. No money dispensed. Very sinking feeling. We contacted our local bank with little hope we’d ever see a reversal of the withdrawal, especially given the language differences the researchers would have to contend with. We received a provisional credit almost immediately and the investigation took less than a week. This in an era where fax was still king. The CSR told me that the ATM provider’s end-of-day tally made it clear that “our” money was still in the till.

  25. kouotsu says:

    So it happened yesterday morning, it’s already fixed, and you’re still going to close your account? Sorry but you’re overreacting to a technical malfunction in this case.

  26. psm321 says:

    Everyone asking what the bank should have done differently needs to read scoosdad’s comment:

    http://consumerist.com/2012/09/bank-of-america-dispenses-phantom-cash-uberbank-bureaucracy-doesnt-seem-too-worried.html#comment-2616810

  27. Demilio says:

    Sounds like an idiot closing their account b/c of an ATM error.

  28. 007 says:

    This was just an inconvience. They gave the money back as quick as any other bank would. I have had Bof A for 14 years and never had a problem. In fact I have a DEBIT card that gives me airline miles! I get a least 1 round trip ticket (or more) every year. In fact they just paid to tansactions under $10 and didn’t charge me any fees. (I was shocked at that.)

  29. karlmarx says:

    All banks have their problems… Even small banks.

  30. Vegetius says:

    While I see no point in publicly condemning people with limited means, I will say that it’s unwise for them to use large banks. Credit Unions were invented for them, why not make use of them?

  31. bben says:

    Similar thing happened to me a few months ago – the ATM did not give cash, but did give a receipt that said it did. Luckily I am a member at a credit union instead of a big bank. There was an employee inside even though it was a few minutes after closing on Friday evening – He invited me in, helped me fill out the form and got me the cash I needed – Right now instead of in 48 hours. I had to sign a receipt saying the cash would be counted as a short term loan if their investigation showed I had gotten the cash. The next business day I got a call telling me that particular ATM was over exactly the amount that I claimed to have not gotten and if it was OK with me the investigation would be closed.

    Service instead of hassle.

  32. Invader Zim says:

    I can only imagine the amount of freak going down when that happened. At least I have a heads up about withdrawling money from atms. Why doesnt the atm just say it cant dispense the cash instead of dinging thier account?