Cautionary tale about ATM use


Aug 9th, 2017, 07:38 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Cautionary tale about ATM use

On a recent Baltic cruise we stopped in Tallinn, Estonia. In the city center I used an ATM from Dansk Bank (large, well known Danish bank). I inserted my USAA ATM card. The machine provided all instructions in english. I followed all the standard transaction procedures and everything went well. Except... no cash and no receipt??? Instead the machine went back to the ready mode. My family waited for 15minutes but nothing. Tried calling the number on the wall but no english speakers on the other end. Two hours later on the ship I called USAA to report what happened. Indeed $105 was withdrawn from my account. They put in a reversal immediately pending investigation. When I arrived back home my claim was denied. They provided a log from Dansk indicating that with two minutes I had received 100 euros and a receipt. I asked for an open/closed report to verify my claim that they likely had at least 100 euros more in their machine then the receipts indicated. I also provided a sworn attestation from the three of us that what I reported took place. I also provided the ships itinerary indicating the ship had sailed five hours after my reported transaction took place (i.e., their log was faulty). Lastly, and for what it was worth, I sent a photo of the ATM and offered to provide the meta file. Their only response was that unless I can show a receipt indicating a malfunction, there was nothing they could do... no exceptions. This could have been far, far worse. I was going to take 1,000 euros out but decided I did not want to walk around with that much cash. I can lose a hundred dollars from my pocket and feel bad for a few days, then forget about it. What I lost here was much more than $100. It was lost faith in not only the banking system but USAA which is a top rated American, non-profit that provides financial services for active duty, veteran military.
Rick Steve's has written on this subject and I wish I had followed his advice. He says that one should only use an ATM inside a bank. That way if something malfunctions you have humans to talk to and work out the problem. If someone reads this and learns from it then perhaps it is not a total lose
pharmd is offline  
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Aug 10th, 2017, 04:22 AM
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I am sorry for this most upsetting incident, and many, many Fodorites swear by taking no Euros (or other foreign currencies as available) with them from USA, worrying about the exchange rate here. But we ALWAYS take 100E along for our trips to cover our miscellaneous expenditures (taxi, coffee, trinkets) and will only go to an ATM during its open/business hours. Once in Rome we had a problem -- dont remember exactly, but husband had to retrieve the card from inside the bank, etc. We dont use much cash overseas anymore but again, for tips, admissions, etc. We never use the ATMS in airports or in open areas where thieves can easily be watching. Tallinn was such a lovely port stop, no? Such a shame it will hold bad memories for you. In the context of a whole trip expense, is the exchange rate on $200 going to break you? Lesson learned.....
aliced is offline  
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Aug 10th, 2017, 05:35 AM
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Sorry for your loss, glad it was no worse. Yes, the advice to use bank ATMS inside or attached to an actual bank during banking hours is good advice. However, I have often used ATMs in airports with no issues.
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Aug 10th, 2017, 08:13 AM
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It's ridiculous to say "lessons learned" as if it is the OP's fault for not taking heed of so-called "advice" and only using ATMs inside buildings, during office hours, not in airports and other such nonsense. It's not practical to do that in the real world.
I had a similar experience with the ATM inside my daughter's apartment block in NY, I got a receipt for the amount requested to be withdrawn but no cash. It was not a huge amount but my bank credited it back to my account when I complained about it. I would contact Danske Bank directly or at least push back again on USAA.
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Aug 11th, 2017, 01:30 AM
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Sorry for your misfortune, happy it was no more regrettable. Yes, the exhortation to utilize bank ATMS inside or connected to a genuine bank amid saving money hours is a word of wisdom. Be that as it may, I have frequently utilized ATMs in air terminals without any issues.
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Aug 11th, 2017, 04:53 PM
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So sorry this happened to you. I had my ATM card skimmed at the Edinburgh airport a few years ago. I flew in from London after a terrible trip getting there so 7 hrs late and not thinking, I used the ATM machine prior to leaving the secure area. I was tired and didn't think to cover entering my pin and yep it got skimmed. I knew it was that machine because others traveling in my party used it too and were skimmed as well. It was the only machine we all used. I reported it to the airport who turned it over to the police. When they went to pull the video not surprising the camera was disconnect and I never heard back from the police. So lesson learned here and I'm talking thousands were taken by the time I realized it. So I feel for you and appreciate the warning.
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Sep 17th, 2017, 02:42 AM
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If you must use an outside ATM, make sure there is adequate lighting and opt to do it in the daytime.
toddhicks209 is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 10:22 AM
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We arrived in Alexandria and went to the train station to purchase tickets to take the train to Cairo for the day. Put my card in the ATM machine and could not get it out. No one spoke english, no one to help. Card still stick in the machine, forget about going to Cairo, I was frantic about getting the card out. I had to use 2 emery boards like a chopstick to pull the card out. No money, no Cairo but I walked away with my card! Yeh.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 04:35 AM
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Just got back from stressful european trip. First stop was Bruges, Belgium with 4 euro countries to follow and then Hungary with forints. First try at an ATM to take out 300E, no luck, card declined. Yes I had called to let the cardholder know I would be traveling and where, so a decline was a concern. Tried again, 70E popped up, so took it, tried 2 more times and got 70E each time, Declined on a 4th time.

Went to ATMs at banks but card declined. Made one more trip to the only ATM that seemed to work and withdrew 210E to last me through my euro countries.

I worried about getting forints in Hungary but carried $100US in emergency money and figured if card was declined in Hungary would just make due with what I had and any leftover euros.

One positive note that the owner of my hotel in Bruges was willing to charge me more for my room and give me the rest in euros if my problem persisted, which I was grateful for.
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