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Unable to Dispense Cash; but Charged for Use of the ATM

Image credit:  Hoi An Food Tour.

Before anyone gets any ideas, this article is not to whine about a measly 14 pesos. Albeit, add a peso more and you get to and from a destination if at minimum fair.

But I get ahead of the story…

I was out of cash to pay my phone and electric bills earlier this week and went to withdraw some from an ATM at one of the local malls. At this mall, I habitually go to the ATM of a local bank where somebody I know works.

You know… Just in case the ATM swallows my card.

The ATM was online, so I went to it to make my withdrawal. After a few moments, the machine ejected my card and a sign on the screen said, “Unable to Dispense Cash.”

That was fine. There were other ATM machines close by. I went to the next one, made my withdrawal and thought no more of the matter.

I did send this person I know at the bank a text message to let him know that his bank’s ATM was dry. Later that morning, he called me up asking if any money was deducted from my account. One of their customers had called in complaining about this.

I told him that I would check my records and get back to him. After checking my records, I was relieved to find that the amount I had at my bank was intact.

I did notice a 14-something peso discrepancy after I had deducted the amount that I withdrew earlier in the morning. I sent the guy a text message to inquire if I was charged for using the ATM even if no cash was dispensed.

Yes, he confirmed. Charging is per transaction, regardless of whether it is successful or not.

That is not fair, I replied; and encouraged him to mention this to management.

We all know that if we use an ATM belonging to a bank other than the one where we have our money deposited, we get charged a service fee. That is fine, and every bank is entitled to charge that fee.

However, when we pay that fee, we expect to get cash. Whatever the banks think, the fee should be charged for the service of dispensing cash and never for using the machine alone.

Who will be stupid enough to use an ATM in in the knowledge that the machine will not be able to dispense cash in the first place? Therefore, that ATM which I used earlier this week should have had a notice on its screen that it was unable to dispense cash.

Then, I would not even have bothered.

This is all computer programming; and whether the charging per transaction regardless of whether it is completed or not was programmed intentionally, only the banks themselves can tell.

We will give them the benefit of the doubt and presume that this was merely a programming oversight. Hence, this article is to call attention to this terribly unfair charge.

Either way, what a rip-off! 14 pesos may not seem a lot; but that’s PHP 140 from ten persons charged as I was and PHP 1,400 from hundred persons. It increases incrementally, income totally undeserved and unearned.

Just to be sure that mine was not an isolate case, I sent a text message before writing this article to another person I know at a different bank to inquire if his bank would also charge if unable to dispense cash.

He said he was not a hundred per cent sure but that what he knows is that the charging is automatic.

I close by saying that I do not know if this is an industry wide practice; but that if it is, hot damn! What a rip off!