Monday, August 19, 2019

That's Bank-Way Robbery!

Every Friday, I go by the bank and take out our weekly cash allowance. Along with it is money that is set aside for long-term goals such as Christmas, taxes, insurance, and some cushion for The Pony's college living expenses. I'm not some technowizard like Genius who can partition my finances into clever online compartments every payday. We get by the old-fashioned way, with envelopes, locking money bags, and combination safes. No, not the wall kind behind a painting with eyes that follow you. The heavy industrial kind that a safecracker might need to use a stethoscope on. This method has served us well for 30 years. We don't have to scramble to come up with the money when the time arises, and we don't see a higher balance in the checkbook that tempts (one of) us to spend it.

Anyhoo... I use the drive-thru ATM that is located in the back wall of my bank branch. It gives out cash in designated quantities, which are less than the amount I need. It's also kind of touchy, with the touch screen feature not always aligning exactly with the choices.

On Friday, I took out the first half of my withdrawal without incident. When I touched the screen to get the second half, the FAST CASH button below it lit up, and the ATM gave me $40. That's not what I wanted. I took the money it spit out, and punched in the remainder of my weekly withdrawal. Which was now an amount ending in $60. This has happened once or twice before. Not a problem.

I heard the ATM whirring as it counted out my bills. When it spit them into the slot, the top bill was crunched up. About 1/3 of it was folded back. I reached down and pulled out my bills. Then I did something I don't normally do. I COUNTED THEM. Right there at steering-wheel height, in full view of the camera mounted in the wall. Years ago, I always counted, but never had a problem. So I stopped counting. But with a bill folded over, which has never happened, I felt like I should.


I counted three times, each with the same result. I was missing $20 from my withdrawal. Each time, it added up to an amount ending in $40.

Of course I wasn't going to let this go. I looped around down the alley, and back to the middle of the three drive-thru lanes. I had to make a deposit in The Pony's account anyway. When the Teller finally greeted me about five minutes after I sent the canister through the tubey thing, she said,

"I'll be with you in a moment, I'm in the middle of a transaction with another customer."

"Okay--but I was just at the ATM, and it didn't give me all my money! While I've been sitting here, another car went through, but I don't know if it got money. It wasn't there long. The ATM might be jammed up."

Teller did not reply. I guess she was thinking.

"Do you want me to come inside to deal with this?"

"Yes, that would be best."

"Okay, then just do the deposit for now."

"I'll send that back out to you, and you can do them both inside."

So I looped back around the back alley and into the parking lot in front of the bank. It's a small branch. Only 10 parking spaces, plus two handicap. Of course ALL the spaces were full except the very last handicap. I took it. I'm not proud. But I DO have trouble with my knees, and I was NOT going to leave my $20 there.

As you might imagine, there was a line of customers out the door. Only ONE teller was working. She had all the lobby customers, PLUS the drive-thru, which she was alternating. Two other workers were in a glass office and a cubicle, probably opening accounts or taking loan applications with the customers sitting with them. One old man ahead of me threw up his hands in disgust, and shouldered past me, muttering about only ONE teller.

I was pretty happy with that development, since it moved me into the vestibule. But then I realized I'd left The Pony's deposit envelope out in T-Hoe. So I had to gimp my way back there to get it. Of course as I was gimping back inside, a man parked in the now-vacated space, and got to the door ahead of me. So I was right back where I started waiting.

I'd been at the ATM at 11:30. I got in line for a teller at 11:40. When it was my turn, it was 12:05. Of course Teller remembered me. It's not like there was another one. She listened to my story.

"Here's the money that came out. You can see how it's turned every which way, and wrinkled. I've counted it three times. Here. You can count it. It's my last transaction. It should end with $60, but there's only $40."

Teller counted it. Another worker walked past behind her, saying something wasn't working, which I assumed to be the ATM. Teller told me all I could do was file something. I'll say a grievance, but it was some other word.

"I can do that for you here, or you can call the automated number, and a person will help you do it."

"Well, let's do it now."

Teller typed up a screen, said she saw my transaction, which said I got the amount ending in $60. "It may resolve the amount when it posts to your account. So then everything will be fine and you won't have to file the grievance." She continued typing, then called to the wandering employee behind her. "It won't give me the screen to file the grievance."

"Oh, you can't do that until the transaction posts to the account. She'll have to wait to do that." So Teller gave me her card, and said I could come back when it posted, or call her, or call the automated number. She was very polite.

I took her card and left. I knew they weren't going to open up the ATM and count the money and give me my $20. I've forgotten my card in the ATM before, and gone in to ask for it, and they said it wouldn't be available until the next day, after they opened the ATM. So I figure it only gets opened once a day, for refilling and balancing their transactions.

Tomorrow, the rest of the story...


  1. I once withdrew $300 from an ATM and got a whirr, whirr and a receipt. THe bank took an hour to realize the machine was not working and return my money. Meanwhile I was running late to my daughters wedding. My ex-wife was pissed at me, claimed I did not know how to use an ATM.

    Golly she was a fun lady!

    1. At least I was only running late for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You must have more advanced banks. I think mine needed someone to dig up a sock full of bills, and count them to see if they were over.

      I don't see how it was your fault. You were robbed by a no-armed bandit!

    2. joeh; I've had that happen and all I did was go straight to the desk, show them my receipt and let them know the machine must be empty. They hand over the cash and put an out of order sign on the ATM while it gets refilled. Not a physical sign, it comes up on the screen saying this ATM is currently unable to dispense cash.

    3. You Aussies are trusting, our banks will pat you down first to make sure you aren't gaming them.

  2. And by pissed I mean head spinning, green slime "exorcist" spitting rant and raving insanity kind of "Pissed."

    1. Wow. Too bad she was too old to be in The Exorcist movie. Did you point that out, after a slow golf clap? I guess not, since you survived to tell the tale.

  3. You were far more patient that most would be. But, still, grrr. Looking for a reasonable solution.

    1. I was "patient" because I wasn't about to leave without trying to resolve my missing $20. And because you never know, I might have found a PENNY while waiting. I found one on their parking lot once.

  4. Your issue made my head hurt. I went through this at the teller window and had to wait a day for my $20. I laughed at Joeh's comment.

    1. At least I made your head hurt for free, and didn't charge you $20 to recoup my loss. My mom was shorted a 10 by her drive-thru teller, and they had it for her before closing time. I guess I'm not a squeaky enough wheel to get my money back right away.

      Joeh has a way with words. With ATMs, not so much. But NOT his fault!

  5. I wouldn't have been at all happy with that outcome and I'm happy to say that here in Aus, that teller would have given me the $20 since the machine made the mistake not me. at the end of the day when the ATM cash is counted, she/he just gets the extra $20 back in their till.

    1. You'd think mine could have done the logical thing, and handed over my $20. I've banked there for 30 years. They could see from the balance that I had no reason to run a scam on them for a mere $20. It's not like I was having fun waiting in line to set up a fake scenario.

  6. I remember one time going to get my last 10.00 for groceries out of the bank and going to leave and I had no money. I must have dropped it on the floor and another customer picked it up. That was a sad day.

    1. NOOO!

      When I taught the at-risk students, one told me about finding $20 on the parking lot of the only gas station/convenience store in that town. She said, "I ran over there to pick it up!"

      I asked her if maybe she should have turned it in to the clerk, in case anyone came back looking for it. She said, "Oh, I saw the lady who dropped it. That's why I was in a hurry to pick it up!"

      I said, "What if that was her last $20, and she was going to use it to buy milk for her baby?"

      That girl said, "Then she shouldn't have dropped it."

      I really liked working with those kids. The idea of turning it in never occurred to them. At least I gave them that idea.