The other day I made a post entitled “Are you stupid? Sometimes I am!” It kind of sparked off a debate that lead in a direction that I was not quite ready for! You see, I didn’t really intend that post to be about banking, I had just used banking as an example of what I was talking about. But, that’s good that a discussion got going, even if it was a topic that I did not intend, because it showed me that I needed to make a post answering some questions asked about banking! I have touched on this before, but it’s been a while, and maybe I can attack it from some different angles this time.
In the discussion on that post, I mentioned that ATM machines are unreliable here. It is, in my opinion, really true that they are. The things that make them unreliable is that the are off-line a lot times (which means that you can’t use them), there are plenty of times when they have no money in them, there are also lots of times when they have no receipt paper so receipts are not available. Another thing that happens sometimes is that they take money out of your account, but do not dispense it to you! When I mentioned this, Graham almost immediately replied and asked how he could get cash, since I had mentioned that Cash is King here, yet the ATM is unreliable.
Well, Graham – each of these problems with the ATM machines is one that you can prevent or minimize if you take some steps toward preventing it. Let’s look at each of the problems that I noted above, and what you can do to solve the problem.
- ATM Machines being Off-Line. Well, at least this is not a security issue. It’s not like you are going to lose money (have it removed from your account) when the machine is off-line. What it means, though, is that you cannot get money at a time when you may need it. You have a few choices here. First, I recommend that you always keep enough money on hand that you can wait a day or so before you are in dire need of money. Have a certain amount of money (maybe P5,000) stashed away for those times when the ATM is not working. Also, you can always go to another bank to try their machine. Just because the ATM at one branch is not working, it doesn’t mean that the other branches are also off-line.
- ATM has no cash available. This is almost identical to the strategy above. Keep some cash available. Try a different branch.
- ATM cannot issue receipts. This one is a little tricky. I say this because I think it is important to get a receipt. It’s the only way that you can have proof of the transaction in case of trouble. But, if you really need the money, you can transact without getting a receipt. You can always go to try a different machine, though.
- ATM doesn’t give you money, but takes it out of your account. This is VERY important, and I really implore you to read my previous post on this matter, which is linked above. Although this does not happen nearly as often as it used to, it is really something to watch out for, and be careful. If you press the matter, though, the bank will reimburse you for the money taken.
Graham asked in his comment about the safety of using your card here. He, I think, is worried that perhaps your card number will be swiped and things like that. I do not believe that this is a huge risk here. I use ATMs often, and have not experienced any such problem. Because of our various businesses, Feyma and I probably use ATM machines to withdraw cash from our US account many times every week, so we have extensive experience with the ATM networks here. I just recommend that you use common sense in conducting your transaction, and you should be fine. Look around and see if anybody is watching you or following you. Maybe they are waiting until you get cash so they can take it. When I see people like this, I just leave and go to a different branch of the bank. It doesn’t happen often, and probably nothing would arise from the situation, but I’d just prefer to be safe rather than sorry. Graham also mentioned cloning of your card. This is something that I have never heard of happening here, although I know it is a problem in Western Countries.
My strongest advice is to read the post about ATM machines not giving money even when they charge your account. Combat this by being vigilant in watching what is going on!