A Bank Of America ATM Ate My Checks But Didn't Deposit Them

Now that ATMs can gobble up your checks and not even bother with an envelope, many consumers have been joyfully feeding their money into them, especially those who, like Consumerist reader Frank P., have ebank accounts and thus would have to pay to deposit them with a teller. This very technology, gone awry, is the reason Frank says he’s leaving BofA forever.

He writes in to tell his tale of hungry technology, which involves an ATM that ate his checks, tried to spit them out again, couldn’t, but then did not deposit his money into his account. Which, he notes, could’ve been more troublesome if he had really needed that money in his account in a timely manner.

His letter reads:

Yesterday, I dropped by my local ATM machine to deposit two checks. Everything seemed to be going fine until I deposited them using the new check feeder.

For those who are not familiar with how the machine works, one simply deposits the checks into the ATM machine. No envelope is used and no amount is input into the ATM before the checks are deposited. The machine then scans the checks and asks the user to verify the amount. All fine and dandy if it works.

Apparently there was a problem because it tried to give me back my checks. It tried some more. And then it gave up. It took my checks, gave me back my ATM card, and left me standing there confused and without a receipt. I immediately tried calling the Bank of America phone number listed on the front of the ATM, but because I was calling after hours on a Saturday, I could not reach anyone. I spent several hours Sunday trying to work things out with Bank of America on the phone. Long story short, there is nothing they can do for me until Tuesday (three days after the ATM problems). Fortunately, I did not need the money right away, but I can imagine someone needing the rent or having to pay bills going through the same thing and they would be out of luck. All Bank of America offered in return was an apology.

What bothers me about the whole situation is how helpless I feel. I signed up for their eBanking program which only allows me to speak to a teller if I need something that I cannot do at the ATM. In other words, I will be charged a fee if I go inside the bank to deposit checks. I did this in order to avoid getting charged a monthly maintenance fee, but I don’t trust their ATM check deposit system any more.

So basically, Bank of America took over $900 worth of checks and is holding them. I have no access to them and I have no idea if they are safely store somewhere inside of the machine. I have to wait two business days to find out if I need to call the respective check issuers and put a stop payment or just wait for things to clear up. I have been a customer with them since 1997 and it is my first checking account, but this is it, I am switching to a different bank.

Any tips from the Consumerist crowd for a good bank? What about online banking such as ING or Charles Schwab?

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