Mary Dejevsky: Now I know to my cost – rogue ATMs really exist

Notebook

Share

I was always rather sceptical of those who complained about putting their card into an ATM and getting nothing out. Until it happened to me. The card went in; the machine asked for the pin, produced the menu and returned the card. So far, so normal. But after clicking and whirring, it printed out a receipt, thanking me for withdrawing £100 – although I had done nothing of the kind. Not a note in sight. There followed a message saying "Do not re-enter your pin" – well, no, I wasn't going to risk a repeat performance – and the machine took itself "temporarily out of service". How temporarily, I wondered.

The next morning I returned to the branch concerned to complain about their ATM. I was reasonably confident the problem was with the ATM, not the card, as another machine at another bank had yielded cash 20 minutes later without a hitch.

I hadn't really expected the branch to refund my £100 just like that. After all, you can't have just anyone walking into a bank and saying the ATM cheated them at dead of night, and here's the rogue receipt, thank you very much. But you might have thought – or rather I foolishly thought – that a bank branch might be a bit concerned, or even mildly interested – about the possible malfunctioning of its ATM, especially if the complainer was brandishing a valid card and two remittance slips, one for a supposedly successful but actually failed transaction at their machine, and one successfully completed at someone else's.

But, no. The clerk seemed profoundly indifferent, and said that it was a matter for the "card issuer", which – of course – wasn't them. Forms had to be received and sent back, and then, in most cases, I was told, the money was refunded. It would take two to three weeks. I couldn't resist responding that this would be quite a long time if your balance was hovering around zero.

By now, I was feeling that their insouciance about a malfunctioning machine wasn't quite right and asked for the manager – forgetting that there isn't one bank manager any more, but several. Anyway, a very reasonable female manager explained it all again, with one improvement. Unless you have to "go into dispute", she said, a refund will be arranged over the phone.

In passing, though, she said they had had problems with this ATM, that it had been "completely rebuilt" not a week before, since when there had been fewer problems. Fewer? Well, it turns out that this central London ATM is used several thousand times a day and that only 1 per cent of these transactions goes awry. If you think, though, 1 per cent of, say, 6,000 is 60, that seems quite a large number of people to be inconvenienced by one machine every day. Is it not complacent, to say the least, that this – and the sums that must be refunded – is seen as an acceptable rate of failure?

Ring, ring, who's not there?

All the phones were down in Ambridge last week, after the village fell victim to the crime de nos jours – the theft of copper wire. With the near desperation that ensued, however, you would have thought that the invention of the mobile phone had quite passed the Archers by.

My own view, which crystallised last week when I suddenly realised how redundant the phone on my desk had become, is that the landline has five years, no more, before it goes the way of the telegram. Think of the savings: no handsets, no maintenance, no switchboard. Perhaps even, in time, no infuriating call centres.

My desk phone is set to a very low volume so – apologies to anyone who might have tried in vain to raise me – it doesn't get answered that often. But then, judging by the small number of messages left, not that many calls come in. I would guess that email and mobile phone account for more than 95 per cent of my office communications. And the only real justification for keeping a landline at home is that it supplies the wireless hub for internet access. If, as it promises, Westminster starts to offer wi-fi coverage across the borough, the rationale for keeping the landline will be zero.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 12 months

£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler / Probate Assistant

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral