ATM Question

Has anyone ver been “shorted” when using an ATM? How about receiving an extra twenty? I’ve never heard of any dispensing problems. I’d like to see the mechanics that are responsible for the accuracy.

I always count it and have never received an incorrect amount. When it does happen, though, the bank will correct it and the error will be corroborated when they balance the machine.

There used to be an ATM at my work that would dispense $20s and $5s. Whoever loaded it, switched the bins. I pulled out what should have been $15 and received $60. I called the bank who owned the ATM, my bank (who only showed $15 withdrawal) and HR just in case. It never got corrected. This was 12 years ago.

I once got only $60 when I asked for $100. The machine had recorded that it had malfunctioned, and when I called the bank to complain, they already knew about it and had corrected the amount of the withdrawl.

I used to work in an IT dept in a bank in the late 90s. The guy that was responsible for the ATM machines was also in our room. Several times a week he would get calls from branches that an ATM had malfunctioned for a customer and had given them the wrong amount. I was shocked by how often it happened.

Of course, you have to keep this in context. There were probably 30 or more ATMs and each of those were probably used hundreds of times a day. So in reality the failure rate was one out of thousands. Depending on how often you use one, you could easily go a lifetime and never witness an error.

I once was shorted. I called my bank right on the spot and identified the location of the machine. They credited my account the missing money immediately, then did a validation later (when the machine was serviced). Not sure what they’d do if the validation didn’t corroborate my call.

In almost 30 years I’ve never encountered an error.

Those little semi-portable or non-bank ATMs may be different, but the typical bank-owned ATMs made by Diebold, Nixdorf, NCR, etc. count the dispensed currency twice - as it comes out of the cassette and again as it goes to the dispensing hopper before the door opens or it’s ejected for you to take. If the counts don’t match, the cash gets pulled back into a “rejects” bin and the machine tries again or cancels the transaction.

If you’re suffering from insomnia some day, feel free to read up on FDIC Regulation E claims. This is the underlying law that governs transactions at ATMs, and how banks are to handle claims related to their use, abuse or malfunction.

Extremely similar event happened to me about 5 years ago, but not from an ATM, rather from an automated checkout register. I think I was expecting $14 back, and instead of a $10 and four $1 bills, it gave me a $1 and four $10s. I think it was a Home Depot. It was extremely obvious that the mistake was not of the machine, but of the guy who loaded it. (Of course, I reported it immediately, and - to my surprise - the math was simple enough that even the store manager understood what I was saying.)

A bit more than 20 years ago, I was briefly a member of a Credit Union for students at a particular college. They were part of an atm network, so there were many machines around campus (and the world) where you could use their card, but their atm only worked for their members.
The atm only dispensed 20s, but as a reward for using their atm, every 100th bill was a 50.

I never got the 50, but I loved that kickback for the customers.

I once got one extra $20 from an ATM. I called the bank to let them know. They credited my account by the extra twenty. Yes, they GAVE me another twenty instead of taking an extra twenty out of by balance. At that point, I said fuck it, I tried. This was about thirty years ago.

Can I give “Sort of” as a valid answer?

I used an ATM in a mall area for a $100 withdrawal. It wasn’t the type of ATM that dropped yor money into a little pile; it was the type where a little steel door opens and holds on to your cash until you tug it out of there. The cash got hung up in the mechanism and just as I was about to stick my finger in there to get it out, it slammed shut and the machine went into Out Of Order status. I went to the nearest bank branch that was labeled on the ATM, and was told they don’t own the machine and that I’d have to call the number on the machine. I called the number on the machine and of course was told to contact the bank. I was pissed at SunTrust’s lack of interest in helping me, and it was the only time in my adult memory that I intentionally made a scene. I stood in the lobby of a SunTrust branch yelling my head off. One key phrase I remember yelling was to the effect of “You don’t think I can stand here and cost you over $100 in business?” At the end of the day, I had to go to MY bank and file a grievance report basically saying I was ripped off. After about a month SunTrust was finally OK to give the blessing to my bank to have $100 credited back into my account.

I just remembered, that was my second issue with SunTrust. I used to bank with SunTrust. I’m talking about savings accounts, checking accounts and money market accounts, for my entire family. One slow day I pulled into the drive through to make a deposit. I generally keep deposit slips in my car, this time I didn’t have any. I know I’m probably going to catch some shit for this from some of you but hopefully some of you will see my side of this. There were three lanes open. There were no cars in any lane (except mine, obviously) I ask the teller if she would send me a deposit slip. She says she can’t do it because it will slow down the drive through. I promise her that if anyone pulls up behind me, I’ll drive through, and only pull back around once my deposit slip is ready to go. Mind you, there are two empty lanes open. I even use the great line from Bob Crandall “Rules are to guide, not constrain” on her, but all I get is we can’t do it. Whatever… I pulled my car into the nearest spot, went inside and cleared out every account I had there and moved it to a different bank.

Are Home Depot managers notoriously bad at math or something?

One time, in ~15 years of using ATMs, I got an extra $20 out. I asked for $60, the machine gave me $80, and the receipt said $60. I said “today must be my lucky day” and never really thought about it again. It’s been correct literally every other time, which kind of surprises me.

I got shorted $20 once. I was in the drive-thru, so I parked and went in to the walk-in where there was a direct line phone. They immediately credited my account, then after a few days reported that they were in error and made the credit permanent. This was BoA, 10 years ago at least, I doubt things would work out that well now.

Yes. I lifted the cover (ATM of 25 years ago) before the money was dispensed. Apparently if you do that they are made to not give the money. I went into the branch, they reviewed that ATM tape and gave me my $20.

Related thread.

I feel like it would be fairly worth your time, as a college kid, to withdraw the max amount each day and then make cash deposits to increase your odds. If you can pull out, say $300/day from the ATM, that’s 15 bills, meaning you’d hit the 100 approximately once a week, gaining $30.

Of course, you have to keep a certain amount to keep from overdrafting, but in the log run it’s not costing you anything, and you’ll gain money from the 50s. They might stop the promotion, though!

I used to work at a bank chain IT center, near the people who managed the ATM network. Errors in the machines were pretty common, given the large number of machines, including many that were outside & exposed to weather. But most errors could be corrected easily – the machines recognized most errors & sent a signal, and video of the transaction was usually enough to fix it. (Seems odd to me, but many times ‘shorts’ were corrected before the customer ever knew about it – apparently many people don’t bother to count the cash that is dispensed from an ATM?)

Some of the design changes you may have noticed in newer ATM’s are intended to reduce these errors.

For example, the most common cause of errors was human – the people loading the cash drawers would get it wrong – either switching the $20 and $5 drawers, loading $20 in both, etc. So most newer machines now dispense only $20’s – that educes the chance for errors loading the machine (and saves expense, as the machine doesn’t have to be refilled as often).

Also, machines now often dispense the bills into a recess in the machine, behind a door. On older machines, where it slid the bills out a slot, people would grab at the bill and pull it out forcefully, which could jam the mechanism. Also, people could walk off early, leaving the last bill still emerging (?), or get distracted and fail to catch the bill, so it fell to the ground and blew away on the wind, leading to complaints.

And newer machines don’t require deposits to be inside envelopes – you just feed the deposit into a slot in the machine. This allows the video to see the item(s) as deposited, in case of errors. It also saves the bank money – no need for envelopes or even deposit slips at the machine. Also keeps the machines available longer – often people would leave if an older ATM was out of deposit envelopes/slips.

The banks, and ATM makers, are working to make these machines work better.

I got an extra $90 once, when my $300.00 withdraw included 3 $50 dollar bills instead of all twentys. Always suspected it was an inside job that I happened into. Not an ATM malfunction per say, but somehow some 50’s got loaded into the 20s slot. I didn’t realize it until days later, and I was hundreds of miles away.