Almost every Saturday, I get up early and head out for a bike ride around the city. I usually ride with a friend and we always head into downtown via the Katy Trail and then figure out where to go from there. This week was no different, despite the 38 degree weather and 25 MPH winds. So we headed from Mockingbird station down the Katy Trail into Victory Park. Once we got there, we decided to ride over to Oak Cliff to try out a mexican restaurant in the Bishop Arts District. Since I am famous for never carrying any cash, I decided it would be a smart idea if I withdrew some from the Bank of America ATM in Victory Park just in case the "hole in the wall" restaurant didn't accept debit cards.
At first, everything seemed normal. I insterted my card and the machine asked for my pin number and then asked what I wanted to do. I chose to withdraw $100 from checking. Everything was normal with the transaction UNTIL the part where my $100 bucks was supposed to pop out of the trap door. I heard the noise the machine makes when it's counting and sorting bills, but the door didn't open. Then silence. Then another round of noise from inside the machine. Then silence again. Then the screen beeped to tell me the transaction was finished. But no money ever came out!
I sat there for about a minute staring at the trap door to no avail, thinking to myself that not only has this never happened to me, I couldn't even think of one person that this had ever happened to. Would the $100 be debited from my account once I got home and checked it online? How much of a hassle was it going to be to get the money back, especially since I don't even bank at Bank of America?
Unfortunately there was nothing I could do at the moment. I was in downtown on my bike with nothing more than a cell phone, and there was no bank branch at this ATM. It was a stand-alone machine. And hunger was quickly overcoming my anger anyway. I needed food!
Fortunately the mexican restaurant took debit cards....
By the time I got home, I had a million things to do so I didn't even check my account online until later that evening. Sure enough, there was a debit for $102 from 9:48AM in Victory Park!
So how to fix this problem? I began doing some research online and discovered that the correct process was to file a fraud affidavit with my bank, who would then follow up with Bank of America. I called them first thing this morning. At first, the customer service rep from my bank insisted that I had to take this up with Bank of America. Wrong answer. It is actually my bank's responsibility to initiate the investigation. I did go ahead and call Bank of America and explained to the rep what had happened. Sure enough, she told me I had to file a report with my bank before they could do anything. Since I had been on hold for over 15 minutes just to talk to them, I insisted that she stay on the line so I could get my bank on conference call. THIS TIME, I got someone at my bank who actually knew what they were doing. They instructed me to go to the closest branch and file a fraud affidavit, which I did at around 1:00 today.
According to the teller at my bank, this takes about 10 business days to resolve. I am very curious how Bank of America is going to respond. I'm assuming an audit of the cash in the ATM will show they are $100 over, but who knows what the outcome will be. With my luck, the $100 popped out about 10 seconds after I rode away and some homeless guy had a nice time Saturday night at my expense!
We'll see what happens. I will update the progess as things develop and post tthe details here. Has anyone ever heard of this happening before or had a similar experience?
SITUATION RESOLVED (A.K.A. I got my money back!)
Here's a quick timeline of events:
November 15th - ATM ate my $100 bucks
November 17th - I filed a dispute with my bank.
November 20th - Provisional credit issued to my account (I got a letter confirming this a few days later).
December 11th - My bank informed me that the investigation was completed and that the provisional credit was now a final credit. Case closed.
So it took almost a month to get conformation that my dispute was resolved, BUT only a few days to get a credit back to my account.
FYI- I use Legacy Texas Bank. I would highly recommend them to anyone (unless, of course, you need a mortgage, then you need to call me!). Their service has always been great, the tellers very friendly and I've never felt like they didn't care about my business, even though I only have my checking with them and always transfer savings to an online bank/brokerage account. So it's not like i'm a "high dollar" customer to them. They just have good service.