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the transaction had completed, so he requested- on the same transaction- a receipt, which stated the money had been withdrawn.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.