ATM ate my money that I tried to withdraw. What do.
March 22, 2011 10:07 AM   Subscribe

ATM canceled my transaction and then didn't give me my money but charged me anyways. What can I do?

Yesterday I tried to withdraw $80 from the ATM located in my school's dorm but instead of giving me the $80 dollars, it told me "transaction canceled" and didn't give me a receipt, lucky for me, I checked my balance on that ATM machine right before I tried to take out $80. When I tried to withdraw the money again, it told me I had insufficient funds.

I tried called the credit union that maintains the ATM but they pretty much told me I'm out my money and that I can dispute it with my bank [after they put me on hold for half an hour and then hanging up on me twice].
When I called my bank [TD Bank] they told me the transaction was still pending but I still had a chance that the money would come back to me. I filed a dispute and they told me I had to wait anywhere from 2-5 days but anywhere up to 10 days.

Well, it's today now, and the transaction is not pending anymore, and I'm short $80 plus a $2 surcharge fee on top of that. Which is a lot for a poor college student who just got their hours cut from work study.

What can I do now? I really can't wait around for 10 days to potentially get the money back. I originally needed the money for a doctor's appointment and groceries but now I don't a single cent of that money.
posted by QueenHawkeye to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I had the same thing happen to me, however, the ATM that messed up was my bank's own ATM. The dispute process took 5 days and my money was returned to my account. Because it is two separate entities involved in the transaction, I would expect it to take most of the 10 days.

Find money elsewhere to cover the gap between now and then. Do you have any family or really close friends that could loan you $80? Do you have an emergency credit card that you can use and pay off immediately? Do you keep a weasel (a precious couple hundred that you only use in desperate situations)?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:21 AM on March 22, 2011

I know when something similar happen to me---only it was a deposit that got screwed up, not a withdrawal---I had to wait for the pending transactions to become cleared transactions before the bank could do accurate research into the matter.

This may be the case here. But definitely give them another call tomorrow about where they are on this.
posted by zizzle at 10:23 AM on March 22, 2011

You might try talking to the bank that maintains the ATM again to see if they have found a discrepancy in the ATM that you used. They may not have balanced it yet, or they may not be able to tell you about it even if they have, but it's worth a try. At then you will know that the error has been found and your money will be coming back to you eventually.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:28 AM on March 22, 2011

Same thing happened to me: ATM provider was useless, they told me to ask my bank (which also happened to be TD Bank) for some [special term which I forget -- apologies] which demanded an audit-of-sorts of the ATM. It all worked out nicely in the end. I think it took less than ten days, and they refunded the ATM surcharge.

Also, I'd recommend dealing solely with your bank: they get paid (indirectly, due to your being a customer) to work on your behalf in this situation. The ATM corporation, from their perspective, won't think they owe you a thing.
posted by astrochimp at 10:30 AM on March 22, 2011

Best answer: This just happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to withdraw money from a Bank of America ATM and only received a fraction of the money. This occurred on a Sunday night and I spent quite a bit of time trying to reach someone on the toll-free help number posted on the ATM right after the incident occurred, with no luck. I saved my ATM receipt.

The next morning I tried again during business hours and was told that since I am not a Bank of America customer (was trying to withdraw money from my checking account at a credit union) that it was not an internal matter, it was a bank dispute, and I needed to address it through my credit union. I called my CU, filled out the paperwork, sent in an additional letter with more detail and a copy of the ATM receipt, and waited. The money was provisionally credited to me right away and since it hasn't disappeared again I presume the matter is settled.

Long story short: based on my experience, you've done all the right things and you need to wait a little for your case to move through the system.

I completely sympathize with being a totally broke student. If you need to manage cash flow for a while I suggest calling the doc's office, explaining what happened, and asking for deferred billing for a few weeks or maybe a payment plan.

Hang in there--good luck.
posted by Sublimity at 10:30 AM on March 22, 2011

I had a similar issue with an ATM recently (it fed me $10s instead of $20s, thus shorting me by $300).

The agreed upon process (both the ATM owning bank, and my bank) was that I filed a complaint with my bank, who then had the ATM owning bank perform some sort of audit. Having the exact address and time of the transaction appears to have been helpful. The only obnoxious thing was that they took 60 days to verify that it was complete.

tl;dr: if you contacted your bank, told them what happened, it should probably all be okay.
posted by grudgebgon at 11:58 AM on March 22, 2011

Sometimes colleges offer emergency loan programs, so you could look into that while waiting.
posted by annsunny at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2011

Best answer: Calling your bank was the right thing to do and you've filed a Regulation E dispute (at least, I assume that is what your bank did when you filed the dispute). I'm nearly 100% certain that you'll be getting the money back in time. You could go to a branch of your bank, tell them what happened and ask for a provisional credit. With that amount, I'm a little surprised that they didn't do that already but it is a little bit different than a stolen card dispute. If you were honest about the transaction or they can't prove that you weren't, you get to keep the money but if they can prove that the ATM did, in fact, give you the cash, they'll take it back (this is what happened to Sublimity).

In the future, if I were in your shoes, I'd get myself a credit card either to have for emergencies or to use for most of my purchases over the course of the month and then pay-off the balance every month. That will keep your checking account balance a lot more stable and you'll have much smoother cash-flow that won't mess you up as much when bumps like these happen. You just have to be diligent about spending smart and paying off the FULL balance EVERY month.
posted by VTX at 12:24 PM on March 22, 2011

annsunny is right--you can often get emergency loans from your school, especially if your school is a big one. Google the name of your school and "emergency loan." If you don't find anything, call the office of the Dean of Students to ask. Sometimes the loans go directly through them, sometimes through financial aid.

They have power over your grades and transcripts and library priviliges and such, so they're pretty sure to get the money back, and they know students get in a pinch every once in a while. At my last school, I think the limit was something like $100 for the first loan, and if you paid that back in a timely manner, you could later get up to $300.
posted by BlooPen at 1:41 PM on March 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, today my bank gave me a provisional credit for $80 [not sure why they couldn't give me the credit before...] so now I'll be able to buy groceries, but I'll be checking in with my bank either later today or tomorrow.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 7:46 AM on March 23, 2011

I had this happen last year and the two things I recall most distinctly are:

- the person handling the dispute at my credit union (the ATM was at a bank not my CU) gave me the serious stinkeye about the whole thing. I'm sure she thought that I was running a scam as I was dumb enough to try to withdraw from the same ATM twice (total of $320 plus fees). What can I say? I've been using ATMs my entire banking life and until now never had a problem.

-the person I followed up with the next day at my credit union said that they may not ever hear back from the megabank regarding their faulty atm. Unless there's a pattern of fraud, he alleged that banks just pay out the claim and move on. I wanted some definitive written statement that they wouldn't suddenly yoink the $320 and fees back from my account later and this is when he told me that wasn't going to happen. Seemed fishy to me but I got my money and haven't heard a peep about it since.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2011

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